If you think pregnancy is hard... try being a four-tonne elephant

Beware: moody, irrational beast due to give birth in Dublin Zoo

Bernadine (right) rips apart the food net, Yasmine (left)  at the  Kaziranga Forest Trail in Dublin Zoo

Bernadine (right) rips apart the food net, Yasmine (left) at the Kaziranga Forest Trail in Dublin Zoo

 

Cramps, back pain, mood swings, food cravings… pregnancy is no cakewalk.

But spare a thought for Yasmin, Dublin Zoo’s premier Asian elephant.

After 22 months of pregnancy, she now weighs a whopping four-and-a-half tonnes.

Food cravings aside, she is on a strict diet of just three bales of hay a day.

If this wasn’t bad enough, she gets just three-and-a-half hours sleep a night, standing up.

To cap it off, her bouncing bundle of joy is expected to weigh in at a healthy 12.5 stone.

On the upside, she gets a rewarding pad trim and nail file at least once a week.

Keepers at the Phoenix Park venue say preparations are well under way to welcome the new calf, who is expected any day now.

The animal care team is on a 24-hour ‘birth watch roster’ to ensure everything is in place for the big event.

Every aspect of Yasmin’s behaviour is being monitored using special night vision cameras in the habitat.

Detailed data is also being collected daily, this includes weighing Yasmin every morning on a specially designed scales.

Paul O’Donoghue, assistant director at Dublin Zoo said; “It is a very exciting time here at the zoo as we prepare for the birth of Yasmin’s calf.

“Recently Yasmin has started withdrawing to the elephant house earlier in the day, reducing her movements and is increasingly restless at night.”

“The other members of the herd are showing protective behaviour towards Yasmin and sleeping with their bodies touching hers. All of these are positive signs and indicate that she is soon approaching her delivery date.”

Yasmin’s pregnancy follows the arrival of bull elephant Upali from Chester Zoo in 2012.

The pregnancy is a major achievement for Dublin Zoo’s elephant breeding programme, and marks the culmination of years of careful planning and co-operation amongst zoos.

Elephants have the longest gestation period of all mammals.

Long gestation period are typically associated with intelligent animals, and since elephants are the largest living and biggest-brained land animal, there’s a lot of developing for elephants to do in the womb.

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