The latest round of pregnancy tests at Blackpool Zoo has revealed that two of its elephants are expecting babies.

Mother and daughter Noorjahan and Esha are both pregnant and due to give birth in late 2024.

The calves will be the first to be born at the zoo in its 52-year history and with the Asian elephant listed as endangered and numbers declining in the wild, this news is a huge boost for everyone involved in the European Ex Situ Programme (EEP) for the management of this endangered species.

@blackpoolzooofficial Happy International Zookeeper Day! 💚 We want to say a MASSIVE thank you to all our hardworking keepers who are so dedicated and passionate about providing the best animal care whilst helping protect the future of many threatened species. Without them, the zoo would not be the place we all know and love! Being a keeper might seem like the best job in the world, but trust us when we tell you it isn't always easy... #zoo #zookeepers #internationalzookeeperday #wildlife #animals #foryou #fyp #animaltiktok ♬ Love You So - The King Khan & BBQ Show

How long have Asian elephants been endangered for?

Asian elephants have been listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List since 1986 and the population is estimated to have declined by at least 50% over the last three generations.

This means that EEPs serve as a crucial lifeline for ensuring the survival of the species.

Elephant calves can stand and walk within the first hour of being born

Elephants have the longest gestation period of any mammal and Asian elephants are pregnant for 18-22 months at a time.

A newborn Asian elephant weighs approximately 100kg and they can stand and walk within the first hour of being born.

How the elephants’ pregnancy tests were carried out and showed results

Following recommendations from the EEP for Tara, Noorjahan and Esha, staff needed to successfully identify individual dung samples so they could be sent for hormone analysis.

Each individual elephant was given food containing a different colour of edible glitter, which inevitably appears in their faeces so keepers can see which dung belongs to whom.

Samples were collected twice a week and sent to a cutting-edge research laboratory at Chester Zoo for analysis with the results confirming the two pregnancies.

Adam Kenyon, Section Head at Blackpool Zoo, said: “This announcement is a historic moment for Blackpool Zoo and it is testament to an incredible amount of work that has taken place over the last decade.   

“Elephant mothers are fiercely nurturing and protective and, together with the herd, teach their calves everything required for elephant life, including how to stand, swim and find food.

“Complex social matriarchal groups mean that the females in the herd help to care for the young of other elephants, which is vital for the development of calves.

“We will be closely monitoring Noorjahan and Esha in the coming months and while all indications currently point to healthy pregnancies, there are inherent risks.

“Just like in humans there may be unknown factors that can lead to complications during gestation and delivery. Miscarriage and stillbirth are not uncommon in the species as a whole.

“The development of birthing strategies and additional monitoring is a key component to understanding as much as possible about our expectant mothers.

“We look forward to keeping everyone up to date with their progress before hopefully welcoming two new additions to the herd later this year.”

@blackpoolzooofficial 🚨 CUTENESS ALERT 🚨 Have you ever wondered what a baby orangutan sounds like? Well, to mark World Orangutan Day, we wanted to celebrate by sharing this heartwarming video of Jingga and her baby that keeper Charlotte captured 🥰 With Bornean orangutans being classed as critically endangered, the birth of this little one has been an extraordinarily special time for us all here at the zoo and the European Endangered Species Programme. #orangutan #babyanimals #zootiktok #animaltiktok #animals #fyp #foryou ♬ original sound - Blackpool Zoo

Jeroen Kappelhof, Species Coordinator for the Asian elephant EEP, added: "The recent news of the two pregnancies within Blackpool Zoo's elephant herd is truly magnificent.

“It signifies a huge milestone in their development of a multi-generational herd, which will provide a wealth of learning opportunities for its inhabitants.

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“Hopefully, these successful births will continue to contribute to the goals of the EEP, in developing herds with social structures closely resembling those in the wild, as well as managing the genetic diversity of the ex-situ population".

Adam continued: “By collaborating, sharing research and exchanging ideas, zoos play a crucial role in the global effort to protect and conserve these highly intelligent and complex animals.

“In addition, studies carried out in zoos can monitor elephant behaviour, physiology and reproductive biology more closely to provide valuable insights that can further inform conservation strategies.”