Prague Zoo’s baby female elephants now have names

Both elephants will remain in Prague and become the basis of the next generation of elephants

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 22.06.2020 11:48 (updated on 22.06.2020)

The baby elephants born at the Prague Zoo this year on March 27 and May 9 were given names chosen for them by breeders.

The names of both elephants this year are in the Sinhala language of Sri Lanka, the country where their mothers Janita and Tamara come from. The older elephant was given the name Lakuna, meaning “Sign.”

“The significance is that it is a good sign. We perceived the first female elephant in this way because she was born in a difficult time when the zoo was closed, in quarantine. At the same time, it represents a good sign for the future of our elephant breeding,” Prague Zoo director Miroslav Bobek said.

Choosing a name for the second elephant was paradoxically more complicated, in the end Amalee won by a single vote from the breeders. “This name no longer has any special meaning in Sinhala, but it doesn’t need it either,” Bobek said. “Both baby elephants are simply our ‘Prague Miracle.’”

elephand names
The elephants were christened by the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Miloslav Stašek, Prague Zoo director Miroslav Bobek and Komerční banka CEO Jan Juchelka / via Petr Hamerník, Prague Zoo.

Jan Juchelka, chairman of the board of directors and CEO of Komerční banka, which has been the main partner of the Prague Zoo for 15 years, became the godfather of the older female elephant. “I would like to wish both elephants a long and happy life, a lot of fun now as a child, the group has grown even more,” he said.

The younger baby elephant was christened by State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Miloslav Stašek, who has a great deal of credit for the zoo in 2012 managing to negotiate the import of Tamara and Janita to Prague.

“For diplomacy, the exchange of animals underlines the above-standard ties between the two states. It wasn’t easy then — Sri Lanka doesn’t just give its elephants away, and almost no one hoped for success. I am very happy that it succeeded and the whole story ended here with the birth of Max and Rudi first and now these two females,” Stašek said.

The two baby females will remain in Prague and will lay the foundation for the creation of a new family group.

Both Janita and Tamara gave birth to Maxmilian and Rudolf in 2016. They were the first elephant calves conceived and born in Prague.

Prague Zoo has kept elephants since 1933. There are nine of them now, counting the two newborns. The oldest is Gulab, a female the zoo acquired in 1966. Apart from Janita, Tamara, Max, Rudi and Rudi’s father, Ankhor, there is also Shanti, a female.

In 2013, the zoo opened the new Elephant Valley enclosure worth 500 million CZK, the biggest complex ever opened by a Czech or Slovak zoo.

Prague Zoo is ranked as fifth-best in the world by the travel website TripAdvisor, based on user reviews. It had been ranked as high as fourth in 2015.

The zoo currently covers 58 hectares with 50 hectares used for exhibits. It has over 4,700 animals from 681 species, including 144 species listed as threatened.  The zoo opened on Sept. 28, 1931.