New arrival at Woburn Safari Park

A new elephant's arrived at Woburn Safari Park this morning (Tuesday).

Yu Zin - who weighs five tonnes - has been brought over from Emmen Zoo in Holland.

She is joining three other elephants who have been at the Safari Park since 1997. Coincidentally, it is 13 years to the day that they moved in, and the same crane driver who lifted them in has been helping deliver Yu Zin this morning.

It is hoped that Yu Zin - who has already given birth to three babies - will help speed up the breeding programme at Woburn.

Dr Jake Veasey - who's the head of animal conservation at Woburn Safari Park - told Heart there's a possibility she may already be pregnant:

"We're hoping that Yu Zin's going to become the matriarch of our herd. Because she's an older animal she'll sort of take the lead and they'll follow her. And because she's got that breeding experience we hope that she's going to really help get our cows [female elephants] in to that breeding mode."

Yu Zin arrived at Woburn at around 8 this morning in a metal crate, after a journey which included two lorry journeys and a ferry crossing.

Her crate was lifted by crane in to the Woburn elephant enclosure at around 11am. The 32-year-old backed out slowly before making her way in to the elephant house, which has become her new home. She seemed to settle quickly and was soon throwing dirt over her back, and playing with some of the toys in the house.

Raja - the park's male elephant - is also in the house, but separated from Yu Zin by metal bars. They'll spend a few weeks getting used to each other, before being allowed full contact.

Dr Veasey added:

"Over the next two or three weeks we're going to be looking at how the elephants are behaving, whether they're showing positive interest in each other, or whether they're still a little bit unsure. So we're really going to take our time and make sure everything goes well."

One of Yu Zin's keepers from Holland is staying at Woburn for a few days to help her settle in.

But - no matter how well Yu Zin gets on with her new room mates - it'll still be some time before there are any baby elephants at Woburn. Elephant pregnancies last for two years.