Disney hopes that people will be inspired to help animals by its “curious, confident” baby elephant.


Disney’s Newest Star: Meet Corra, the Confident Baby Elephant
Disney is hoping that its “curious, confident” baby elephant will encourage guests to support animal welfare.
The birth of Corra is important for the endangered species and provides a teaching opportunity for guests of Walt Disney World. Baby elephant Corra made her public debut on the park’s savanna on Thursday, marking an important milestone for Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom.

The calf, born on December 13, 2023, bolted from her dwelling quarters, closely followed by her mother, 8-year-old Nadirah, who was also born on the Florida ranch. The two then nibbled while guests on the Kilmanjaro Safaris excursion enjoyed their company as their cars passed silently by.
Subsequently, Corra’s aunts Stella and Luna, as well as Nadirah’s mother Donna, joined her and Corra together with other family members. Like most female elephants in the wild, Corra will be raised by the five-member family on the savanna as they support and guide her through her early years.

For the Animal Kingdom crew, who assisted Nadirah in naturally becoming pregnant with Mac, one of the park’s three male elephants, and supported her during her pregnancy (which lasted 22 months!) and delivery, the sweetness may seem fresh to guests of Disney Parks, but it took years to develop.

According to Liz Warncke, manager of animal care for Disney’s Animals, Science, and Environment, “the entire process is very slow.” “To sort of gauge [the elephants’] first responses to one another, we begin with brief introductions. Luckily for us, Mac and Nadirah had a strong mutual attraction from the beginning.”

Monitoring Nadirah’s cycles, staff endocrinologists were able to determine that she was pregnant in early 2022 based on elevations in certain hormone levels. After then, personnel at Animal Kingdom kept a close eye on every facet of her pregnancy, doing ultrasounds, evaluating her vital signs, and modifying her nutrition as needed.
As Nadirah’s due date drew closer, endocrinologists were able to pinpoint an 85-day window for Corra’s delivery. Then at last the big day arrived.
“She was uncomfortable for the last few days leading up to Corra’s birth, but nothing to where we saw the signs of active labour,” Warncke relates. And then, just before to the birth, she really lay down and fell asleep. She’s asleep, so it’s probably not going to happen tonight, myself and another keeper thought. After she stood up and began exhibiting strong labour symptoms, including as vigorous stretching and roaming the yard, a calf was on the ground in about ten to fifteen minutes.”

Throughout her labour and delivery, 13-year-old Luna, Nadirah’s sister, who is also pregnant, was at her side. While carers watched, they did not step in.
Warncke describes Luna’s presence as “a support system for Nadirah, so she wasn’t by herself.” After carrying the pregnancy for a considerable amount of time, the little infant suddenly appears on the ground and begins to move. ‘I don’t know what’s happening,’ she said. They so kind of band together to ascertain what is going on.”

“Nothing but amazing as a first-time mum. She doestes on Corra,” according to Warncke, about Nadirah. When Corra first came along, she was too tiny to reach her mother, who was quite tall, to breastfeed her. Staff were aware of the problem because of their studies of the baby’s development in utero, so they constructed special podiums around the elephants’ yard and trained Nadirah to approach them and stand in the right posture for her pregnancy. It’s not been as much of a problem for the two now that Corra is growing, and they want to keep nursing her in the next months.

Bravery and independence have never been problems for Corra. According to Warncke, “she’s very curious and super confident.” There’s no hesitation there—anything fresh for her. She’s simply really happy.” Disney’s Animals, scientific, and Environment head of animal and scientific operations, Dr. Scott Terrell, believes Corra’s arrival presents “an opportunity for zoos as a whole to tell the elephant story to people.” “There is a threat to elephants. Since there are two years between each birth, every baby—whether in the wild or in a zoological setting—is vital in that sense.

The fact that the Animal Kingdom currently has three generations of elephants living on its savanna, mirroring the family dynamic seen in the wild, makes Terrell very pleased. To ensure you never miss a story, subscribe to PEOPLE’s free daily newsletter. It contains everything from celebrity news to gripping human interest pieces.

Terrell responds to people who would argue that zoos or places like Animal Kingdom aren’t the best places for animals to live: “Good zoos care about two things: caring for animals and caring for their counterparts in the wild.” And everyone on my staff operates on that tenet.” Therefore, according to Terrell, the Disney Conservation Fund has donated $125 million to global conservation initiatives, such as the Elephants and Bees Project, which saves both species by putting bees—which elephants are terrified of—at African fields that the animals may otherwise devour too much of.

At Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom, keepers on Thursday let Corra alone to decide whether or not to go onto the public-facing savanna. They offered bundles of hay to entice Nadirah, but otherwise intervened little. Safari guests and even their drivers were taken aback when the calf unexpectedly emerged ahead of her mother, since many were seeing the little animal for the first time. Aside from the three male elephants, Corra’s family spends several hours on the savanna every day, trading places with the other elephants to choose who gets to view and who stays in the more private elephant habitat.

Despite what Warncke refers to as some “growing pains” from 7-year-old Stella over no longer being the baby of the family, the calf immediately reacts to her name, which was picked by keepers and means “daughter” in Greek. She also continues to fit in wonderfully with her herd and bonds with her grandmother and aunts. At Animal Kingdom, male and female elephants socialise separately, much as they would in the wild, but she also sees her dad Mac quite a bit.

Terrell thinks that guests who see Corra at Animal Kingdom will be motivated to depart.
“Maybe they’ll go home and read a little bit, learn about elephants and bees, or not buy ivory, or if they’re fortunate enough, they’ll go to Africa on a safari and contribute to the local economy,” according to him. “We can all make little differences in the world that will protect elephants.”