DATE: April 27, 2013
Saint Louis Zoo Public Relations
IT'S A GIRL!
Photos for download at right sidebar. Photos were taken on afternoon of April 27. Please credit Katie Pilgram/Saint Louis Zoo. If higher resolution images are needed, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
ST. LOUIS -- The Saint Louis Zoo is proud to announce the birth of an Asian elephant on Friday, April 26, 2013 at 10:57 p.m. Ellie, the Zoo's 42-year-old Asian elephant, gave birth to a baby girl.
"Mother and baby are both doing very well," says Curator of Mammals Martha Fischer. "The baby appears healthy and is already walking around well."
Ellie and the baby spent the night quietly bonding. Mother and baby are not yet on public display, and a debut date has not been set.
The birth was attended by the Zoo's veterinarians and elephant caretakers who are monitoring the health of the baby and Ellie. The calf is about 38 inches tall and weighs 251 pounds.
"An experienced mother and grandmother, Ellie was, of course, very nurturing, caring for her newborn baby from the very beginning," said Fischer. "She did a great job of carrying and giving birth to a beautiful baby girl."
This is Ellie's third baby and the fourth for the baby's father Raja, the first elephant ever born at the Saint Louis Zoo. Now, at age 20, he has his own three-generation family, with daughter Maliha, born on August 2, 2006; Jade, born February 25, 2007; and Kenzi, born on June 24, 2011.
"The Zoo's elephant care team has been busy preparing for this baby for the past two years," Fischer added. "It's so rewarding to have made it to this day."
"In addition, we are all just overjoyed to have her with us to help us continue to build a matriarchal herd," she said.
"Elephants form deep family bonds and live in tight matriarchal family groups of related females so the addition of a fourth female youngster further cements these strong ties and mirrors the natural family structure for Asian elephants found in the wild."
For the past two months, the Zoo staff has been on a 24-hour pregnancy watch. They monitored Ellie's progress with an ultrasound exam and tracked her progesterone every day. When Ellie's progesterone dropped five days ago (announced April 22), the Zoo staff knew she would deliver within 1-13 days.
The Zoo will soon announce a naming poll through a news release, social media and its website www.stlzoo.org.
Asian Elephants Are Critically Endangered
The Saint Louis Zoo has been actively involved with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan for Asian elephants. "Because Asian elephants are so endangered in the wild, the birth of this elephant is important to the conservation work we do with other North American zoos," says Dr. Jeffrey P. Bonner, Dana Brown President & CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo. "Together AZA-accredited zoos cooperatively manage the breeding of Asian elephants to maintain healthy populations that are as genetically diverse and as demographically stable as possible.
"There are only between 35,000 and 50,000 Asian elephants left in the wild, and they are facing extinction. Given the shrinking population of Asian elephants, the Saint Louis Zoo shares a common vision with other professional elephant conservation organizations and with our elephant care colleagues—a vision that includes elephants in the world's future forever, both in zoos and in the wild."
In addition to participating in the AZA Species Survival Plan, the Zoo supports the welfare and conservation of Asian elephants in Sumatra and other countries in Asia through the International Elephant Foundation, as well as the conservation of African elephants in Kenya.
Also, with Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV) a common health issue for elephants both in the care of zoos and in the wild, the Saint Louis Zoo has been instrumental in pursuing the latest EEHV detection and testing protocols. For several years, the Zoo has joined other North American elephant care facilities in actively supporting an EEHV research effort. The International Elephant Foundation is facilitating this study to find a cure.
About Saint Louis Zoo
Named America's #1 Zoo by Zagat Survey and Parenting Magazine, the Saint Louis Zoo is widely recognized for its innovative approaches to animal management, wildlife conservation, research and education. One of the few free zoos in the nation, it attracts about 3,000,000 visitors a year.
Media note: Please call in advance to arrange interviews. Images and video of the baby will be available as soon as possible. Mother and baby are off display at this time. A date has not yet been set for the debut. There is no media access to the Elephant Management Facility.