Mini-fantjes, Sassafras and Co in Planckendael

May 15th, 2018 | By | Category: Plaenckendael

15.5.2018 by Patricia Roberts, Videos by Cécile and Jos

And finally, I was able to visit the mini-lolifantjes in Planckendael. Na ja, also Sassafras and some other four-leggers were scheduled for a visit.

But first of all, let me introduce you to the baby elephants:

– Suki, daughter of May Tagu, was born on Xmas day 2017.
– Tun-Kai, daughter of Kai-Mook, was born on January 13, 2018.
– Tarzen, son of Phyo Phyo was born on April 11, 2018 (and no, this is not a typo, his name is really Tarzen and not Tarzan).

Suki and Tun-Kai (the bigger)

the biggest one is Tun-Kai

And then, a little introduction to the adults:

– Phyo Phyo is an experienced mother and also the mother of May Tagu and Kai-Mook and of sweet Qijo (born in 2015).
– Chang is the father of these last 3 babies and has now moved to Copenhagen Zoo. The new male is Kanvar (born in Spain, spending a few years in Zoo Antwerp and now in Planckendael).
– For May Tagu, it is her second baby and luckily, everything went well this time. She is a very relaxed mother and her baby girl very self-confident.
– Kai-Mook is a first-time mother and always close to her little girl. Tun-Kai is actually bigger than Suki (already by birth) and she is very “hairy”, but staying still close to mommy.
– And then, we have Dumbo, the matriarch (the eldest) and Yu-Yu-Yin, the auntie (having “stars” on her boomsie).

Et voilà, let us start now with the story: on Wednesday, May 9, my neighbour Eddy and I entered his car to our way to Planckendael. Normally, the doors do only open at 10:00 a.m. But since this is Belgium, one can enter when having a decent ticket as from 9:00 a.m. You must know that in Belgium, every rule is made to be broken in one way or another. And just like we all adore good and decent food, we are experts in breaking rules.

And so, we headed off to the stable in the hope to see all elephants enjoying their breakfast. BUT ….. no elephants at all inside. So, rushing to the enclosure and again: no elephants at all outside. Needless to say that I started to panic a little.

In an effort to ease our soul, we decided to have a coffee and on our way to the restaurant, we met the little red panda, having breakfast time. I have never ever seen this little animal so close and so “active”. So, at least, our coffee had to wait a little longer.


After that we went back to the stable, but again, no elephants to be seen. Rushing to the enclosure and finally, there was the entire herd. The first I saw was little Tarzen together with Phyo Phyo.

with mommy Phyo Phyo

And I was shocked. Even though there was the information in the stable that Phyo Phyo is way too skinny at the moment and under constant supervision of the vet. She cannot produce sufficient milk for Tarzen and as such, he is not gaining weight like he should do (he needs extra milk from the keepers). According to me (but I am not an expert), he looked rather apathetic. He is constantly following his mother (and again, according to me, in a rather desperate manner).

Baby Tarzen

When I compared his behaviour with the two other baby girls, it is just sad. Suki is very lively and self-confident, running on her own from here to there. Tun-Kai is exploring things on her own speed, but as long as mommy and aunties are around, life is good. But Tarzen is soo small and skinny, just like his mother and I hope that for both, all will end well. Although he is trying to drink often, I was wondering how much milk he was getting.


little roundish beauty

Luckily, Phyo Phyo is calm and eating as much as she can. I was watching her while trying to have the hay from the box. And it was amazing to see how smart she was managing it. Even though the hay is pressed in the box, she patiently tried to pull out more and more. The end of their trunks is looking like a little finger and with that, she could take more and more (made a little video of it and hope that you can see it).

Meanwhile, Suki was running from one place to the other and teasing Qijo (who gave her in the end a little kick in the ass, just like elephants can do this, but petietje was not impressed). Qijo reminded me of Shaina Pali and her behaviour to KoRaya (keeping an eye on her, correcting where required but loving the little one).

Tun-Kai with mama Kai-Mook


Ah well, 3 little elephants is a wonderful thing to watch and I am afraid that I made too many pics of them (sorry in advance).

But then, we became pretty hungry and went to the restaurant. On our way, we met little Toon, a Bactrian camel, who was laying lazily next to his mother (quite a big difference with Neela a few years ago. She was active and curious).


After a good meal (of course, frietjes and mayonnaise included), we went to the koala’s. But we found a very special tree: almost hollow and seriously damaged but still having fresh leaves. When seeing this, I was very silent because of the power of nature.

still alive

When arriving at the enclosure of the koala’s, we met Cécile and Jos. Finally, after 3 years, and it was a great pleasure. They know so much about koala’s (and not only the ones in Planckendael) that one cannot but just listen to their knowledge.

So, let us meet: Maka, Alinga and Sassafras.

OK, with regard to Maka, I can be very brief: lovely pretty male and lazy potato sleeping in his tree. He did not move a centimetre!!!! 🙂

Pappa Maka

Alinga is a first-time mother and apparently never had an example to learn how to be a mother. She is doing her best but actually she is pretty sloppy. Sassafras is always hanging somewhere at the deepest point of her back (and regularly just falls off). Jos told me that normally, a mother koala would immediately come down to pick up her baby, but Alinga is waiting for her keeper to do the job! Luckily for the baby, the bottom of the enclosure is covered with kind of mulch/sand/whatever, but it guarantees a rather soft “landing” and baby is waiting for “a helping hand from whoever”.



The same with sitting somewhere in the “trees”. Whereas more experienced koala mothers would make sure that their baby is comfortable, Alinga just doesn’t pay attention to that and Sassafras must make sure that she is having a good place. Or Alinga jumping from one branch to the other. Message to Sassafras: fasten your seating bells or otherwise: PLUMPS!!! on the ground (and I saw it happening, but was too late to take a pic of it). Na ja, it seems that meanwhile, Sassafras has learned the short-comings of her mother. And when she wants to drink, she is insisting just long enough to get what she wants.

I also wants some leafs

And then, I urgently needed to go to a special place and we agreed to meet at the Tasmanian devils enclosure. On our way thereto, we passed by the enclosure of the echidna. While trying to spot one of them, a family came with a young child. According to them, there was nothing to see, but at that moment, I found one of the two, half buried in the ground. OK, there was not much of it to see, but they just told their child that there was NOTHING to see and the child just heard me saying: ah look, there is one of them. They left and the child started to cry. It made me soo sad. Why on earth does one take a child to the zoo for then not paying sufficient time to show what there is to see??????

But then another family arrived, young parents, small boy and grandmother and again the same reaction: there is nothing to see. It was stronger than myself and I called them back to say where they had to look. For the little boy, it was difficult in the beginning, but then he too learned how and where to look and apparently, it seemed to have been the first time that they saw these animals. And they were happy and even thanked me for it. Well, it was my pleasure!

And then, it was time for a close encounter with the Tasmanian devils.

But before arriving there, we had to say HELLO to a famous couple: the emus Cécile and Jos. Unfortunately, they were apparently not on “speaking terms” and therefore, I could not make a pic of the couple but only one of each (and do not ask me who is who, I have no clue).




And Cécile (or vice versa)

During the feeding time of the Tasmanian devils, there was also a meeting with their keeper giving lots of information about these animals. He told us that they are night-active, looking very spooky in the dark and making scary noises. Their jaws are very strong, they can even hunt and kill prey much bigger than they are (and therefore, are not liked by farmers). And of course, they have also their looks against them. Like the keeper said: they look like little devils. And frankly, I was astonished about their size, much smaller than I expected.


According to the keeper, they are also very aggressive toward each other and live like solitary animals. Funny detail, although they are black, each of them is having here and there a little white spot. There are now 3 living in Planckendael: Miena and 2 young brothers (since they are of the same litter, they seem to support each other, but the relation with Miena is difficult).


Jos told me that at the occasion of the wedding of Mary with the crown prince of Denmark, Tasmania gave Tasmanian devils to Denmark and Miena is one of them. At this moment, she is 7 years old, in other words, very old for a Tasmanian devil and out of the scope for breeding. But the good news is that since a few years, it seems that some of them have developed a remedy against the famous facial cancer (the curse of these animals). Let us cross our fingers for good news for these animals.


And then, the day came to an end because the undersigned was very tired. I have tried to make some pics and videos and I am also adding the ones of Cecile and Jos.

Here’s my album

And here are the videos of Jos.

First, the koalas

And then, some others: young kasuaris, Roxy the wombat and Jos or Cécile, one of the emus.

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  1. Patricia
    You certainly pack a lot of information into your report.
    The animals that interest me most are the little devils.
    I am glad that they may be developing some kind of immunity to the face illness. They are a very Australian animal.
    Koalas are a bit of a conundrum. They look cute but are a actually not very sweet. They are very bad tempered and selfish. Sorry that is what even the keeper in Duisburg said on TV. Sassafras has my sympathy when compared with Nanook and Hamish.
    Elephants in Zoos are also a bit difficult for me. Unlike many animals the Asian elephants are in fairly large numbers in the wild, even compared with the Africans.
    They come from a damp tropical forest and always seems bit forelorn in Europe. I am sounding like the complainers about Polar Bears I know, but every Zoo I have visited the elephants seem to have the least space and things to do for such intelligent animals.

  2. Dear Mamselleken Patricia,

    I’m so glad to read you could visit Planckendael and even meet Cécile and Jos there! What a wonderful report you delivered again!!!

    Wow! There are no less than THREE lolifantjes in this zoo. It was a good idea to make a thorough presentation of them so we know who’s who.

    Suki and Tun-Kai are very sweet and so is, of course, even the tiny Tarzen but just like you I’m worried about this baby boy. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Phyo Phyo with a help from the keepers will manage to make Tarzen grow and be healthy.

    I’m especially glad about Kai-Mook’s baby because I remember so well how happy we were when ‘Mookie’ was born. Now she’s a mother herself and seems to be doing a good job with her daughter.

    You were lucky to see all the elephants but I can understand you were almost panicking when they weren’t visible at first. 🙂

    I love the photo of the red panda! A real master piece! Toon is a very sweet camel baby.

    I bet you were hungry after seeing so much so I’m sure the meal with ‘frietjes and mayonnaise’ tasted heavenly good. 🙂

    Hahahaa, just like all males Maka makes himself comfortable and let’s Alinga take care of their baby. Well, it looks like Alinga doesn’t know exactly how a mother should act but Sassafras already is a self confident girl who can manage even ‘tricky’ situations. Needless to say the koala family is incredibly cute!

    The episodes with the visiting families are once again proofs of how some parents have no idea why they bring their kids to a zoo. We can’t expect to see everything at one glance but need some patience.

    It’s really funny the emus have names Cécile and Jos! 🙂

    I have never managed to see the Tasmanian devils in Copenhagen so I’m glad to see your photos of them and, of course, reading the informative text as well.

    I’m really happy about this fantastic report from Planckendael! This is what I call a REPORT! Thank you so much!

    Dear Cécile and Jos,

    Thank you so much for sharing your great videos with us. They give an ‘extra spice’ to Patricia’s excellent report!

    Hugs from Mervi

  3. Liebe Patricia,

    ich bin begeistert über deinen detaillierten und langen Bericht!
    Der Anblick des kleinen Tarzen macht mich auch sehr traurig und ängstlich.
    So mager wie er ist braucht er unbedingt Zusatznahrung durch die Pfleger,
    die ihn hoffentlich retten können.
    Seine Geschwister sehen proper aus, und die Videos sind herzerwärmend.

    Es ist traurig aber wahr, dass viele Eltern ihren Kindern keine Zeit bieten,
    die Tiere im Zoo wirklich zu entdecken und zu beobachten. Da fehlen
    einem einfach die Worte über soviel Ignoranz.

    Deine Beschreibung über die unbekümmerte Koalamutter und ihr sturzerprobtes Baby ist einfach göttlich!
    Das Kleine bräuchte noch zwei weitere Füße, um sich besser festhalten zu können.
    (Gelobt sei, was hart macht – sagt man im Deutschen).

    Gut, dass das Video mit den Tasmanischen Teufeln keinen Ton hat.
    Deren Geschrei im Streit ist ohrenbetäubend, wie ich einmal in einer Dokumentation
    im Australischen Busch gehört habe.

    Die Emus und Namensvettern von Cécile und Jos sind ja sehr witzig.
    Wie schön, dass du in so toller Gesellschaft warst mit ihnen, deinem Nachbarn
    und es auch etwas Leckeres zum Essen gab.

    Hab ganz herzlichen Dank für dieses Highlight heute und liebe Grüße!

  4. Dear Patricia!
    Wow, that´s what I call a report: informative with good and sad news, colourful, vivid, compassionate and last but not least with a good sense of humour. Thank you for your descriptions, the beautiful pics and videos.

    I´m happy for you that you and your neighbour Eddy were able to go to the Zoo Planckendael together and saw at least all three baby elephants and their family, a quite active little red panda, the two-humped camels with their little one, the cute koalas, the Tasmanian devils and not forgetting Cecile and Jos as a double pack, first in the shape of humans and secondly in the shape of emus. 😉

    I´m worried about sweet little Tarzen and his mother too. I hope there will be a happy ending and both will recover soon.
    Good to know they finally found a remedy against face cancer among the Tasmanian devils. Hopefully that will save them from extinction. I keep my fingers crossed for them.

    I loved the little stories about the nearly blind families and the echidna and how you taught them to see…
    Well done!

    Thanx to Cecile and Jos for their videos too!


  5. Dear Ralph, since I cannot react in The Knuipe and so, I am doing it here. And no, you are not the person to complain about details. I do not know the elephant enclosures of so many zoos, but I want to make a few things clear. In Planckendael, the enclosure is definitely not small!! The elephants there are having really sufficient place to walk around. OK, Zoo Antwerp is another story. The enclosure is rather small and at this moment only reserved for young males on their way to another zoo. But again, in Pairi Daiza, all enclosures are big for their elephants. And I remember that when I visited Zoo Cologne in 2019, I was nicely surprised about the size of their enclosure (also very big). I have seen Zoo Berlin, Tierpark Berlin and Wuppertal, and yes, there is somehow different.. The only thing i can hope is that other zoos will follow these examples for these animals.

  6. Patricia
    Thank you for reassuring me. I have seen Cologne on the TV and it does look much more interesting.
    I am glad to hear from you as I did not want to be critical after your beautiful article.
    The Duisburg keeper may have been having a bad day with his koalas. Sassafras seems to be coping.
    Your comment about visitors applies to Doncaster where the bears hide so well that many walk through without stopping.
    Asian elephants seem to enjoy working in their homelands maybe zoos need to give them more things to do. The Africans just need vast plains which are fast disappearing.

  7. Hallo Patricia

    Die Mini-Elefanten sind niedlich,
    besonders der Jüngste. Auch
    die Koalas sind sehenswert. 🙂
    Den Teufel mag ich besonders.
    Emus sind beeindruckende Vögel.
    Ich schaue die Videos etwas später.

    Liebe Grüße
    Chris 🙂

  8. Dear Patricia!
    At the first place I am glad that you visited the zoo. I did not hear from you since a long time.
    Your report is very interesting. I hope that Tarzen and Phyo Phyo will get better soon.

  9. Liebe Patricia,

    danke für die schönen Bilder und Videos aus Planckendael.

    Die kleinen Elefanten sind ja niedlich. Es ist immer schön wenn mehrere Jungtiere zusammen aufwachsen und spielen können.
    Dem Mini-Elefanten wünsche ich alles Gute, und hoffe, dass es ihm bald besser geht.

    Ich mag die tasmanischen Teufel auch. Die sehen putzig aus.
    Koalabären sind sowieso ganz tolle und hübsche Tiere.

    Liebe Grüße nach Belgien

  10. HELLO to BELGIUM – Have a happy PENTECOST-weekend.

    I came accross your lovely vido-clips via ‘flickr’ and NOW would like to tell you how much I had fun to discover your beautiful pics of most beautiful and lovely animals of PLANCKENDAEL here in ‘KWM’. . . . So ‘Awwwwww…..’ and lovable these little elephants, the little red panda, the baby camel AND the fluffy KOALA-TEDDYs.

    Thank you so much, not only for the pics and video-clips (CÉCILE and JOS) but also for the interesting and loong -appreciated as always!- text (of PATRICIA ROBERTS) and last not least the editorial work (MERVI).

  11. PS 1:
    Fingers are crossed for TARZEN and PHYO PHYO! Hopefully there will be a happy ending and they will develop to healthy and happy elephants.

    PS 2:
    Of course, I also loved the Wombat in the pics as much as in the gorgeous video. Also the EMU (or is it a NANDU?) is quite a sight.


    I am verysorry and sad to learn from MERVI’s note in ‘Die KNUIPE’ that your sweeet little elephant did die.


    6:25 PM on May 28, 2018 FROM PATRICIA
    Sad news from Planckendael:
    Early this morning, our sweet lolifantje Qiyo died unexpectedly, but most probably due to Herpes. She was born in June 2015 (so, just not 3 years old). The keepers stayed with her all night long to help her, but alas. From the bottom of my heart, I hope that it is NOT herpes, otherwise the 3 other babies are in danger and the entire herd is infected. This is so heart-breaking. When I saw her during my last visit, she was soo lively and her own funny self.

    GOOD LUCK to ALL the other elephants there! I am crossing my fingers that the cause of death of little QIYO was NOT the bad virus that already killed several elephant youngsters in Berlin . . .

    Soft KNUTi-style hugs to Belgium and anybody concerned there!