MALACCA: Elephant calves generally drink their mother’s milk for up to two years or more, but being an orphan, three-month-old Amid will grow up on cow's milk powder and bread at the zoo here.
Orphaned baby elephants are usually nursed by other lactating female elephants in the herd but Amid has lost not only his mother but his entire herd.
“We have female elephants in the zoo but none of them are lactating. Even if they were, they might not accept Amid because he is not from their herd.
“So, we have to give him milk powder until he is big enough for solid food,” Malacca Zoo director Mohd Nawayai Yasak told The Star yesterday.
However, Amid is not consuming just any milk powder. He only drinks the Snow brand infant baby formula “because it is easy to digest and does not cause stomach discomfort.”
“We chose this brand based on our experience with other baby animals in the zoo,” said Mohd Nawayai.
To strengthen his malnourished body and increase his appetite, Amid is on a special treatment plan which includes multi-vitamins and glucose drinks.
The Wildlife Department rescued Amid from a theme park earlier this month and handed it to the zoo. When confiscated, Amid was a heart-wrenching sight with his vertebrae jutting out and the clear outline of his ribcage showing under his hide.
A healthy elephant calf weighs between 90-115kg and can gain one kg a day.
Amid is only estimated to be slightly more than 50kg but is getting stronger and heavier steadily.
In four feeds a day, Amid takes up to 10 litres of milk and three loaves of bread, which translates to one tin (1kg) of milk powder per day. The cost for one day’s feed, including vitamins comes up to RM50.
“We will put him on this plan for six months first, after which the amount (of food) will be increased. By the end of the year, we expect to double Amid's current food intake,” said Mohd Nawayai.
Mohd Nawayai believes that Amid was captured and sold to the theme park after he failed to cross a river to escape a flood with his original herd.
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