By Joe Holleman, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
August 25, 2006

For the thousands of people who queued up Friday outside of the St. Louis Zoo's River's Edge to see the new baby elephant, difficult choices had to be made.

The new baby girl, born on Aug. 2, was:

A) Cute
B) Adorable
C) Beautiful

"Adorable" nudged "cute" by a trunk.

Friday was the first day the general public could view the baby Asian elephant, daughter of Raja, who himself was born at the Zoo 13 years ago, and Ellie, the protective mother whose undercarriage is the baby's favorite spot.

"She's so adorable, she's cute and she's beautiful," said Diane Pierce of Fayetteville, Ill., covering all the adjectives.

"I was here at 7:25 (a.m.) to be the first in line, but, hey, I'm an elephant nut."

Seven-year-old Mary L'Hommedieu of Chesterfield has been following the baby's progress in the newspaper. She coaxed her grandmother, Charleen L'Hommedieu, to bring her and her 5-year-old brother to the Zoo.

"She has all these little baby hairs on her head, and it's so cute," Mary said.

Rochelle Murano of Ladue brought her 20-month-old daughter, Isabella, to the viewing.

"Isabella kept saying 'baby elephant' all the way down here. And I think this new elephant is adorable - the fuzz on the top of her head and the way she is exploring things with her trunk. It's a treat to watch her," Murano said.

About 4,400 people stopped to see the new elephant between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Friday.

Three private viewings earlier in the week for benefactors and Friends of the Zoo brought in more than 10,000 people.

River's Edge is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., but Zoo officials said that if the midday sun gets too hot or the weather gets bad, the baby will be led back into a private shaded area. They recommended 9 to 11 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. for viewing.

Some visitors weren't as enthralled as others.

Ben Johnson, 4, of University City, watched patiently as his mother, Kim Johnson, and 2-year-old sister Maggie caught glimpses. Then, he looked at his mother and asked, "Can we see the tigers now?"

Glenn Dutch of Kirkwood indicated he was directed by his wife to bring daughter Gracie, 2.

But Gracie definitely enjoyed herself..

"I heard it go 'brrppf,'" she said, imitating an elephant noise. "It played the trumpet."

Now that's adorable.

Republished with the permission of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Copyright 2006 St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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