Narrating the correlation of elephants as related to their import, groupings, breeding and transfers,
along with other elephant related topics.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dierenpark Emmen Birth

Originally posted 05/22/2012
Updated 06/12/2012

Last February, ShowMe Elephants discussed the birth of a male calf at the Emmen Zoo, sired by breeding bull Radza and fourth for the thirty year old Burmese cow Htoo Yin Aye.

>> "Emmen Zoo Birth," ShowMe Elephants, 02/09/2011

Today it has been announced another male calf has been born for the Netherlands breeding group, the seventh for 31 year old Burmese cow Htoo Kin Aye.

Newborn male calf, Dierenpark Emmen, May 2012.
Photo Courtesy of Dierenpark Emmen / Elly Bouwens

The previous Emmen Zoo article at ShowMe Elephants received a comment questioning the relation of the Netherlands' group of animals.

>> John, February 09, 2011...

How are the elephants at Emmen Zoo related? In a social perspective. Who came first, second, etc, where do they meet for the first time, are some originating from the same logger company?

>> Ryan E, February 09, 2011...

Thank you for your question, John.

The majority of the Emmen Zoo's original breeding herd was imported from Burma by van der Brink in June 1988. This group consisted of a bull and seven cows. van der Brink, an importer from the Netherlands, was responsible for importing nearly thirty elephants from the logging region and is credited for supplying Europe with a significant amount of elephant breeding material. More information and a list of elephants for which he claimed responsibility can be found at

The imported group of eight animals joined the zoo's existing herd of three female elephants. Of the Burmese imports, only two females remain in Emmen. The remaining group has been dispersed to other facilities under breeding recommendations.

The Burmese male imported in 1988, named Nang Thein, sired a remarkable number of calves in the Netherlands. He was responsible for the birth of fifteen elephants at Dierenpark Emmen, of which all but three still survive today. It is also remarkable to note that all but three of these births were males - eighty percent.

In September 2003, Nang Thein was transferred out of the Netherlands to the Prague Zoo. He was replaced by the bull Radza from the Riga Zoo in Latvia. The goal was this move was to ensure genetic diversity in the Emmen Zoo herd and to prevent inbreeding. Following his arrival, eleven more elephant births have occurred at Dierenpark Emmen, bringing the total number of newborns to twenty five at the location. Similar to the situation with calves sired by Nang Thein, only two of the eleven births were female – over eighty percent. All but two of his sired calves still survive as well.

Emmen's current herd of Asian elephants consists of thirteen elephants - seven males and six females. All but Radza and two of the cows imported from Burma have been captive born at the zoo.

Jonas Livet provides a nice timeline of Dierenpark Emmen's elephant arrivals and removals at his website

The same Dutch importer Frans van der Brink was discussed today in a separate ShowMe Elephants article relating to the sale of four African elephants from England's Chipperfield circus family to an unknown facility in Cuba. More information is sought regarding the history and location of these animals.

>> "Twycross Zoo - Linda," ShowMe Elephants, 05/21/2012

Newborn male calf, Dierenpark Emmen, May 2012.
Photo Courtesy of Dierenpark Emmen / Elly Bouwens

Current Herd
The above history of Emmen can now be updated with the birth of two subsequent male calves since the time of its original writing - Shwe Myarr, the third for 19 year old Mingalor Oo (born herself at Emmen) and the new calf born this week. They currently exhibit a herd of 14 animals, eight males and six females. Seven of the eight males are under the age of four; Radza, the breeding male, is the only mature bull. The zoo's females range in age from 5 to 31, four of whom were captive born at the Dutch facility.

Radza, Dierenpark Emmen, 2007
Photo Courtesy of

It is interesting to note the relation between the second calf of 2011 and the first calf for 2012. Mingalor Oo, mother of Shwe Myarr, was the first calf born at the Emmen Zoo, celebrated in March 1992. She was born to Htoo Kin Aye, the mother of yesterday's newborn. The Emmen Zoo is successfully managing a multi-generation breeding group responsibly and contributing to the Asian elephant population of Europe.

Htoo Kin Aye (center), Dierenpark Emmen, May 2008
Photo Courtesy of

Update 06/12/2012
From varying news accounts, Htoo Kin Aye and her calf were separated from the herd a week prior to her death yesterday. Her calf Thura, described as weak, was subsequently euthanized as well. More information will be posted as it becomes available regarding this horrible tragedy for Dierenpark Emmen and their herd of Asian elephants.

"Little Thura. So sad that he died today.
born on 22-05-2012 / died 11-06-2012
dierenpark Emmen (Netherlands)"
Courtesy of Elly Bouwens


  1. Pretty impressive to be sure. Looks like they know what they are doing.

  2. Radar,
    So in the scheme of genetic diversity/endangered species/propagation it would seem the Radza X Htoo Kin Aye cross is pretty much a wash. Unless you are breeding "halter" elephants or a superior "performance" elephant and are looking for a dominate sire line to "stamp" a look or an ability. To bred it, just to bred it, doesn't seem to make sense.

    Wade Burck


I eagerly anticipate associating with new individuals with an interest or history in elephants, elephant history and elephant record keeping. If you have further information regarding the animals or locations questioned in the article, please leave a comment or message me in an effort to complete their records for elephant historians.