Save The Elephants has, for the first time, turned to Canada for a name of one of its female elephants, a first-time mother who lives in Kenya’s Samburu Reserve. The elephant has been named 'Sophie Grégoire Trudeau' and is the latest elephant to be inducted into a herd known as the First Ladies. Grégoire Trudeau is the wife of Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

Save The Elephants is a leading elephant research organisation which has tracked and monitored elephants in Samburu for the last 20 years. It bestows names on elephants to help identify individuals and their families and to better understand their behaviour and intelligence.

Naming the elephants after themes such as flowers, first ladies and poets is a tradition started by Dr. George Wittemyer, Chair of the Scientific Board of Save The Elephants. The organization monitors more than 60 families and 900 individuals and names female elephants once they have delivered their first calf and males once they reach independence.  Bulls are typically named after prominent individuals in the news, such as Usain Bolt. 

In the First Ladies, Rosalynn Carter is the matriarch and leader of Sophie Gregoire Trudeau’s family unit, while Martha Washington leads the broader bond group. Sophie, who gave birth in May 2017 joins Mary Todd Lincoln, Salma Kikwete, Maya Churchill, Cherie Blair and Michelle Obama.

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Says Dr. George Wittemyer, “Elephants form deep family bonds and are organized by family groups led by a matriarch. Elephant herds are one of nature’s most intricate, fascinating and complex examples of female-led mammal societies. Being on first-name terms with these elephants helps us better understand their different personalities and behaviour. Crucially it also makes it easier for people to relate to elephants and view them as the exceptional creatures they are.” 

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