'He's got swagger': Blackpool Zoo keeper reveals how new elephant Emmett is getting on after his move up the M6

Blackpool Zoo's first male elephant has settled in "really well" since arriving in the resort - and the pitter-patter of little elephant feet may not be too far off, his keeper has revealed.

Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 3:11 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 3:27 pm

Emmett made the careful journey up the M6 from Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire to join the all-female herd in October, following years of planning and millions of pounds being spent on making Blackpool home to just one of four breeding herds of Asian elephants in the UK.

Adam Kenyon, who heads up the East Park Drive attraction's Project Elephant, said: "He gives off this aura which the females gravitate towards. The best way to describe it, really, is he has got swagger. He just swans about. He's the man and nobody dares dispute that."

For years, 50-year-old Kate - the first animal to arrive at the zoo in 1972 - was the sole Asian elephant, living in an old aerodrome hangar.

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Emmett arrived at Blackpool Zoo last year, in a move conservationists across Europe hope will provide a boost for the Asian elephant species (Picture: Blackpool Zoo)

But the Spanish-owned zoo invested around £5m in new state-of-the-art living quarters that opened to the public in March 2018.

Gradually, the rest of the herd was moved from Twycross in Leicestershire and now has five females: Kate and her companions Tara, Minbu, Noorjahan, and Esha, who is the youngest.

Minbu has since emerged as the boss, and has been leading the way for the rest of the girls, Adam told Inside Out West Midlands recently.

He said: "They have done really well. They've listened to their matriarch, who is the only one with experience previously with a male, and just operated the way he would expect females to operate.

Adam Kenyon is the head of Project Elephant at Blackpool Zoo (Picture: JPIMedia)

"He hasn't done the business just yet, but we're hoping in the next month or so he will do the business when Tara and Noorjahan are in oestrus [heat]. Then I have no doubt he will step up to the plate."

Adam, worked with Emmett for four years at Whipsnade Zoo from 2004, and in an interview with The Gazette following his move to Blackpool, said: "We closely monitor the oestrus cycles of our elephants by analysing certain hormone levels in the urine, which enables us to map individual cycles to provide us with valuable information for the breeding programme.

"The gestation period of an elephant is the longest of any mammal at 19-22 months so, if successful, we wouldn't be expecting a little addition until late 2021 at the earliest."