0.1 Malayka, the easy-going one
Distinguishing features: smooth forehead, hardly any tail hair, very
long, slim and pointy tusks, which point downwards.
Malayka, born in 1971, spent her youth in Switzerland's
Circus Knie and joined the Zolli group in 1984. She is considered
very easy to get along with and talented, but a little bit sluggish. As
a result she avoids all 'unnecessary' exertion and often stands around
in the sun with crossed back legs and dozes with half-closed eyes. When
meal-times come around, however, all her spirits come awake immediately.
Malayka is the lowest-ranked of the three grown-up cows. Thus her relationship
with the rapidly growing Maya, the oldest and highest-ranked of the three
young elephants, is often a little tense, as Maya will influence the grown-up's
0.1 Heri, the watchful one
Distinguishing features: clear horizontal wrinkles on her forehead, short
tusks. Heri was born in Krüger National Park in South Africa in 1976.
Heri went to Hanover Zoo in 1979 and came to Basel in 1988. Heri is the
attentive, careful and protective 'aunt' who always looks after the three
teenagers circumspectly. Even though she is basically quiet and very easy
to get along with, Heri can get excited very quickly about things she
is not used to or in reaction to what appears to be a threat, and can
react temperamentally. Her inquisitive, keen-to-learn and active nature
makes her the focal point of the daily elephant
Even though she is only the second-ranked elephant, she nevertheless determines
the group's fortunes. After the death of the
very old Ruaha she will presumably take over the matriarch's role.
0.1 Rosy, the playful one
Distinguishing features: smooth forehead, her right tusk is a little
bit shorter and emerges higher than her left one. Both teeth point forwards.
She was probably born in the Tuli Reserve in Botswana in 1995. Rosy is,
in complete contrast to Maya, very playful and loves direct body contact,
both with her fellow elephants as well as with the wardens. She has a
very gentle nature, which is why she is already outranked by the substantially
younger, but very self-confident Yoga.
0.1 Maya, the shy one
Distinguishing features: Even though Maya is the largest of the three
young elephants, she has no tusks. She was probably born in the Tuli Reserve
in Botswana in 1994.
There have always been individual elephant families in which occasionally
babies have been born without any basis for growing tusks (just as there
are humans who are born with four or six incisors instead of eight, which
would be more 'normal'). If these very effective instruments for levering,
pushing, breaking things open and digging are missing, then this has rather
negative effects on the search for food and on self-defence, which is
why tuskless individuals were less successful in the long term in reproducing
than their tusked fellow elephants.
That is why entirely tuskless populations never formed. But hunters, in
their quest for ivory and other trophies over
the centuries, always only shot animals with the biggest possible tusks,
so that the genetic 'mistake' of tusklessness was transformed into an
advantage. As a result of this human interference, tuskless individuals
are over proportionally strongly represented today.
Maya appears to be a rather shy character, serious and quiet. She is altogether
pretty easy to get along with, however, but she doesn't like to be touched
and she likes to keep her distance. Maya is, on account of her age and
size, the boss of the Tuli group.
1.0 Yoga, the young rascal
Distinguishing features: distinct wrinkles on his forehead, both tusks
are about the same length and grow downwards. He was probably born in
the Tuli Reserve in Botswana in 1996.
Yoga learns incredibly fast and is interested in everything, especially
if it is edible. His appetite seems unquenchable and as an enterprising
rascal he repeatedly steals desirable titbits from under the trunks both
of his 'aunts' as well as of the other elephants. He is gaining weight
accordingly, and as a result also quickly growing in confidence. Grown-up
African elephant bulls can weigh over 7 tonnes.
They are thus the heaviest land mammals. Yoga will become sexually mature
at the age of 10 at the earliest. Males living in the wild hardly ever
get to reproduce before they are twenty years old, however, because the
large, over thirty-year-old bulls dominate the younger males.
0.1 Ruaha, the matriarch
29.07.2010 World's oldest elephant Ruaha died
World's oldest elephant Ruaha died at the age of 59 at Basel zoo in Switzerland.
She was brought to the zoo in 1952 as a one year old calf. The zoo keepers
found her dead on thursday morning and the fellow elephants in the zoo
paid their last respects by stroking Ruaha's body with their trunks for
Distinguishing features: rough, bark-like skin,
blunt but mighty tusks.
Ruaha was born on the Ruaha plain in Tanzania in 1951 and has lived in
the Zolli (Basel Zoo) since the 1st of November 1952.
She was the oldest African Elephant in human care world-wide. Ruaha's
great age can clearly be seen both in her physique as well as in her behaviour,
just as it can be seen in aged humans too. The once mighty body had shrunk
and her face had caved in. The very old elephant also liked to stand off
to the side of the group and enjoyed her peace. On account of her great
age Ruaha nevertheless remain the unrestricted boss or matriarch, to used
the expression better suited to elephants' all-female herds.
Ruaha's rough, bark-like skin was not a sign of old age, but was the result
of the inherited overproduction of horny skin, that is of hyper keratosis.
Since her earliest youth Ruaha's horny cells have multiplied too fast
in the top layer of skin and as a result the excessively growing horny
skin folds up on itself.