Upali the elephant unpacks his trunk and says hello to the ladies at Dublin zoo
DUBLIN Zoo is hoping for an elephant baby boom following one of the most anticipated arrivals at the Phoenix Park site for years.
Meet Upali. At three metres tall and weighing more than 6,000 kgs - roughly the weight of ten Friesian cows - the 17-year-old Asian bull (adult male) elephant is now the largest animal at the zoo.
And he's proving quite an attraction for the three breeding female elephants already resident there.
Upali arrived from Chester Zoo at midnight last Thursday, and he's been strutting his stuff along the sandy plains of the Kaziranga Forest Trail enclosure.
It is expected that the elephants will mate soon and double the size of the Dublin Zoo herd over the coming years.
Junior minister Brian Hayes, who has responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW), officially opened the bull elephant house to accommodate Upali.
"I believe Upali turned up from Chester the other day and he's very welcome," Mr Hayes said.
"I believe there are three female elephants waiting for him. Lucky old Upali, that's what I say."
Leo Oosterweghel, Dublin Zoo director, said the zoo was running at a surplus each year with more than a million visitors.
The state has invested about €54 million since the mid 1990s, but funding has now dried up.
Mr Oosterweghel joked with Mr Hayes that all its money is well spent.
"Minister, all our elephants are grey. None of them are white," he said.
Asian elephants are endangered and it is estimated that only 30,000 to 40,000 exist in the wild.