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Blackpool Zoo announces exciting news as two baby elephants due in late 2024

The elephant calves will be will be the first to be born at the zoo in its 52-year history

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Blackpool Zoo

Blackpool Zoo has announced the exciting news it is expecting two baby elephant calves due to be born later this year.

Mother and daughter elephants, Noorjahan and Esha, are both pregnant with the hugely anticipated calves, which will be the first to be born at the zoo in its 52-year history.

With the Asian elephant listed as endangered as its numbers are in decline in the wild, the zoo says the exciting expectancy comes as a huge boost for everyone involved in the European Ex Situ Programme (EEP) for the management of this incredible species.  

Blackpool Zoo

Elephants have the longest gestation period of any mammal, and Asian elephants are pregnant for 18-22 months. Newborn Asian elephant calves weigh approximately 100kg and are able to stand and walk within their first hour of being born.

Adam Kenyon, Blackpool Zoo’s Section Head, said: “This announcement is a historic moment for Blackpool Zoo and it is testament to an incredible amount of work that has taken place over the last decade. 

“Elephant mothers are fiercely nurturing and protective and, together with the herd, teach their calves everything required for elephant life, including how to stand, swim and find food.

“Complex social matriarchal groups mean that the females in the herd help to care for the young of other elephants, which is vital for the development of calves.”

Esha / Blackpool Zoo

He continued: “We will be closely monitoring Noorjahan and Esha in the coming months and while all indications currently point to healthy pregnancies, there are inherent risks.

“Just like in humans, there may be unknown factors that can lead to complications during gestation and delivery. Miscarriage and stillbirth are not uncommon in the species as a whole.

“The development of birthing strategies and additional monitoring is a key component to understanding as much as possible about our expectant mothers.

“We look forward to keeping everyone up to date with their progress before hopefully welcoming two new additions to the herd later this year.”

Noorjahan / Blackpool Zoo

Asian elephants have been listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List since 1986 and the population is estimated to have declined by at least 50 percent over the last three generations, which means that EEPs serve as a crucial lifeline for ensuring the survival of the species.

Adam added: “By collaborating, sharing research and exchanging ideas, zoos play a crucial role in the global effort to protect and conserve these highly intelligent and complex animals.

“In addition, studies carried out in zoos can monitor elephant behaviour, physiology and reproductive biology more closely to provide valuable insights that can further inform conservation strategies.”

Kate / Blackpool Zoo

The journey towards this momentous announcement started over a decade ago, when the zoo first looked at where a new elephant facility could be created within the grounds to enable the team to provide the best possible care.

Two years later in 2016, plans were submitted to the local council and ground broke on what was to become Project Elephant Base Camp six months later.

In Autumn 2017 Kate the Asian elephant, who was one of the first animals to arrive at the zoo before it opened in 1972, moved into her new home.

Emmett / Blackpool Zoo

Senior animal staff were in discussions with the Species Coordinator for the Asian elephant EEP to find a suitable group of female elephants and in late 2017, the zoo announced that a herd of four would join Kate from Twycross Zoo the following year.

Tara arrived in February, followed by Minbu in March and then Noorjahan and Esha in September. Just over a year later Emmett, the first male elephant ever to reside here at Blackpool Zoo, made the journey from ZSL Whipsnade Zoo to complete the herd.

Project Elephant underpins Blackpool Zoo’s ongoing commitment to the endangered Asian elephant.

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Man arrested after mum pushing pram stabbed and killed in broad daylight

A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder

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West Yorkshire Police

Police have arrested a 25-year-old man wanted for the fatal stabbing of a woman while she was pushing her baby in a pram in Bradford.

Police have arrested a suspect, following the murder of Kulsuma Akter, 27. Akter was stabbed several times in the Westgate area of Bradford city centre on Saturday afternoon. 

The mother was rushed to hospital, where despite the best efforts of medics, she sadly succumbed to her injuries. Her baby was unharmed in the incident.

It has also emerged that suspect, Habibur Masum, was on bail for assaulting and threatening to kill her at the time of the attack.

West Yorkshire Police

Masum was conditionally bailed by Manchester Magistrates’ Court in November, despite prosecutors objecting to his release, it is understood.

Court documents show Masum, whose address was listed as Oldham, Greater Manchester, was charged with assaulting Ms Akter on November 23rd and threatening to kill her on November 24th.

Both incidents are alleged to have happened in Greater Manchester. Police had previously confirmed the couple were known to each other but have not confirmed their relationship. 

Masum attended a hearing on November, 27th 2023, where he pleaded not guilty to both offences and was ordered not to contact Ms Akter, it is understood.

West Yorkshire Police

His bail conditions also prevented him from contacting a second person, or visiting a particular address.

Greater Manchester Police has said it is supporting West Yorkshire Police with the ongoing murder investigation.

Both forces have referred themselves to the Independent Office for Police Conduct watchdog over previous contact with Masum and Ms Akter.

Detective Superintendent Jude Holmes, from GMP Oldham district, said: “We share the shock and concern that our communities feel in the wake of this tragic incident, and our thoughts are with Kulsuma Akter’s family at this truly distressing time.

“Habibur Masum is wanted by West Yorkshire Police on suspicion of murder. Due to his links to Greater Manchester, we have our specialist officers following several lines of enquiry to locate him.

“I urge members of the public to remain vigilant, and if you have any information on his whereabouts, call 999 as a matter of urgency.

“Due to previous police contact with Habibur Masum and Kulsuma Akter, Greater Manchester Police has made a referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.”

Police have arrested a 25-year-old man on suspicion of murder. A 23-year-old man was also arrested in Cheshire on suspicion of assisting an offender.

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Hunt for murder suspect after mum pushing pram killed in broad daylight

It is not clear whether is Masum is armed as police warn not to approach him

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West Yorkshire Police

Police are searching for a man from Oldham after a mum was stabbed to death in Bradford while pushing her baby in a pram.

Habibur Masum, 25, is wanted over the attack which took place in the Westgate area of Bradford at 3.21pm on Saturday (April 6th).

The victim, a 27-year-old woman, suffered multiple stab wounds and was taken to hospital where she sadly died of her injuries, West Yorkshire Police said.

West Yorkshire Police

The force also confirmed the baby was not harmed in the attack as the public is warned not to approach Masum.

It is understood Masum was known to the victim although police have not confirmed their relationship at this time. A knife was found at the scene but it is unclear if he is armed.

Masum was pictured on CCTV wearing a grey hooded, zip-up coat with three large horizontal lines of grey, white and black on it, grey tracksuit bottoms with a black logo and burgundy trainers. 

West Yorkshire Police

A witness also reported seeing him wearing a grey hoodie with the hood up shortly after the incident on Westgate, at the junction with Drewton Road.

Masum is from Oldham and is believed to have links to Burnley and Chester. He is described as an Asian man, of slim build.

Detective Chief Inspector Stacey Atkinson said: “We have had significant resources following up a number of lines of inquiry to locate Habibur Masum but at this time his whereabouts are unknown.

“I would urge anyone who does see him not to approach him but to call 999 immediately.”

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She said the death of such a young woman in the ‘most awful circumstances’ will ‘understandably cause concern in the local community’.

Detective Chief Inspector Atkinson Added: “I would like to reassure the wider public that we are working tirelessly to investigate this horrendous crime and bring the person responsible to justice.

“To help us with this we are urging anyone who was in the area who may have dashcam footage or seen or heard something, however small it may seem, to please come forward.

“A scene remains in place which includes some road closures and I thank the public for their patience while we conduct our enquiries.”

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Man arrested in murder investigation after human torso found in Salford nature reserve

A man in his 20s is being questioned by police

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@gmpolice / X

A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a human torso was found wrapped in plastic in a nature reserve in Salford.

As detectives continue to investigate the discovery of human remains found by a passerby on Thursday, April 4th, a man in his 20s from Salford was taken into custody on Saturday evening for questioning, Greater Manchester Police say.

DNA testing is being carried out to determine the identity of the victim, who is believed to be a male ‘likely to be aged older than 40’ and ‘has only been deceased for a matter of days’, officers say.

@gmpolice / X

GMP says it is conducting a thorough search of the area by utilising local officers and specialist branches including search dogs and assistance from underwater search teams, to help comb the site.

The force says although it has ‘not found anything else that is of interest to the investigation’, ‘work will not stop’ until it is certain the area has been thoroughly searched.

Chief Superintendent Tony Creely, of GMP’s Salford district, said: “The arrest we made yesterday evening is an important step for our investigation, but we must keep an open mind and a big part of this is speaking to anyone who may have crucial information.

“As we continue to work in the area, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the public for their concern and cooperation so far, and we are mindful this is a disturbing incident for the local community, but I can assure you that since we were made aware, we’ve been pursuing every single line of enquiry to help us find out what has happened.

“I cannot stress the importance of people contacting us with information if they know anything at all. You may have information that you don’t feel is of importance, but it could be to us, please pass it on, it could be the key piece of information we need to progress this investigation.”

Anyone who thinks they may have witnessed something suspicious in the Kersal Dale area over the last few days is urged to call GMP on 101 and quoting log number 2695 of April, 4th 2024.

A dedicated portal for anyone to submit images or video footage which could help police can be found HERE.

 

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