Community Chooses “Mapenzi” for Elephant Calf’s Name

It’s official: Reid Park Zoo’s 2.5-week old African elephant calf has a name! More than 17,000 votes were collected through a poll on the Arizona Daily Star’s website, ultimately choosing Mapenzi for the name of the new calf. Mapenzi means beloved in Swahili.

“Mapenzi is just the perfect name for this little girl calf as she is beloved by all of her fans and the elephant herd alike,” said Dr. Sue Tygielski, Director of Zoological Operations.

The calf now weighs 315 pounds and is developing some early skills such as running to keep up with her mom, using her trunk to hold objects like sticks, and spinning in circles with her ears fanned.

Mapenzi’s animal care team says her enthusiasm is unmatchable. Whenever she gets the opportunity to explore her habitat, she’s ready for an adventure. She does not walk but runs from place to place, and uses her trunk to investigate everything in reach. Instead of settling down for a nap gently, Mapenzi will bow her head, stretch her front legs forward, and slide into a laydown like a batter sliding into home base.

“Mapenzi is certainly bigger than her sister Nandi was at this age, but both girls are curious and playful — Mapenzi at a few weeks old and Nandi at over 5 years old,” Tygielski said.

The week she was born, Mapenzi was experiencing diarrhea. The elephant and vet teams worked together smoothly to provide medication and fluids, and Mapenzi is doing so much better! She has been unwaveringly bright and energetic these last two weeks and has responded well to treatment.

Mapenzi is at times visible on the Zoo’s elephant cameras. For your best chance at seeing her, check the cameras between 9 a.m. and noon.