August 20:

The Saint Louis Zoo continues to mourn the loss of Avi, the first male Asian elephant born at the Zoo since his father, Raja, 27 years ago.
Preliminary necropsy (animal autopsy) results showed two significant, irreversible birth abnormalities that explained Avi’s struggles in his early life: one affecting the major vessels connected to his heart, and one affecting his spine.
The Zoo’s veterinary pathologist identified a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) as a contributing factor to Avi’s inability to thrive over the first 27 days of life, despite intensive supportive care. A PDA is an opening between the two major blood vessels leading from the heart. The opening, called a ductus arteriosus, is a part of fetal development that normally closes around the time of birth, but in Avi’s case, it did not. The abnormal blood flow caused by a ductus arteriosus that remains open (or patent) after birth means that some of the blood does not go to the lungs to get proper oxygen levels.  
The cause of a PDA is usually unknown in humans or animals affected by it. PDA is uncommon and difficult to diagnose in large animal species. A PDA and the associated abnormal blood flow can manifest as weakness, lethargy and a decreased feeding response, which Avi experienced. 
In addition, Avi had an abnormal spinal conformation that limited his ability to raise his head, and position himself to feed on his own. Although the caretakers provided Avi with supplemental feedings, the severity of these concurrent abnormalities was too much to overcome.  
Surgical correction was not an option for an elephant with either of these conditions.
Comforted by the rest of the Zoo’s elephant family, Avi’s mother, Rani, is in good health and is receiving excellent care by the Zoo’s Elephant Care Team of keepers and veterinarians.
The Zoo wishes to express its sincere thanks to everyone for their support and thoughts.

August 2:

The Saint Louis Zoo is saddened to announce that the male Asian elephant calf born on July 6, 2020, has died. The decision to humanely euthanize the calf was made and he passed away peacefully this morning, August 2, 2020.

The Zoo’s Elephant Care Team of keepers and veterinarians worked around the clock to provide the best care for the new calf and his mother, Rani (pronounced “Ronnie”), who was near her calf at every moment. The calf had developmental impairments that limited his ability to feed since birth. Despite intensive care efforts and life support measures, including assistance with feedings and continuous intravenous treatments, the calf did not improve. Over the last 48 hours, the calf’s already compromised health deteriorated rapidly.

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July 31:

We really wish we had good news to share about the health of the elephant calf, but we do not. Although at times the calf has shown signs of being stable, he has had multiple setbacks related to his underdeveloped feeding response as well as his ability to digest and stay hydrated. The calf continues to receive intensive care from the Elephant Care Team of keepers and veterinarians. This picture is from July 30, 2020, and shows members of the Elephant Care Team providing IV fluids during a veterinary evaluation. We appreciate your continued support and positive thoughts.

July 20:

Our elephant calf has shown signs of getting stronger over the last couple of days, however, he remains under intensive care. Recent efforts have focused on maintaining his hydration, electrolyte and nutritional status, although his feeding instincts remain underdeveloped. Our Elephant Care Team of keepers and veterinarians continue to work around the clock to provide the calf with all his needs. We appreciate your continued support and positive thoughts.

July 16:

Please keep the newest member of the Saint Louis Zoo’s elephant family in your thoughts. The Zoo’s dedicated Elephant Care Team has been working around the clock to provide the best care for Rani and her new calf since his birth on July 6. The calf has shown developmental impairments that have limited his ability to feed since birth. Despite providing 24-hour care, including assistance with feedings, the calf is weak at times. Our Elephant Care Team of keepers and veterinarians continues to provide treatments and support to improve the health of the calf. Additional veterinary testing is under way. When there is more to report, the Zoo will provide an update. For now, we appreciate your support and positive thoughts.

 July 6, 2020: It's A Boy!

For the first time in 27 years, a male Asian elephant was born at the Saint Louis Zoo! We are excited to announce that Asian elephant Rani gave birth to a baby boy at 1:55 p.m. today, Monday, July 6.  The Zoo’s bull elephant, 27-year-old Raja, is the father and first Asian elephant ever born at the Zoo in 1992. This calf is his fifth offspring and first son. Mother and baby are doing well and bonding off public view. A debut date has not been set.  More info here. 

Check out Rani's Journey from the beginning. 

October 24, 2019: She's Pregnant!

We are excited to announce that 23-year-old Asian elephant Rani is pregnant and due to give birth in summer 2020. An elephant pregnancy lasts about 22 months and a newborn weighs about 250-350 pounds. At this point, the sex of the calf is unknown. The Zoo’s bull elephant, 26-year-old Raja, is the father. “We’re looking forward to the new calf joining our multi-generational elephant family, and we’re optimistic that everything will go well for Rani,” said Katie Pilgram-Kloppe, Acting Curator of River’s Edge at the Saint Louis Zoo, and Assistant Director, Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Asian Elephant Conservation. 

November 25, 2019: Keeping Rani Fit

Last month we announced the pregnancy of Rani, our 23-year-old Asian elephant. An elephant pregnancy lasts about 22 months, and Rani is due to give birth this summer. Over the next few months, we will follow Rani's journey as she and her caretakers prepare for the impending birth.

As is the case with expectant human mothers, physical fitness and prenatal exercises are an important part of Rani's pregnancy plan. While exercise routines are a staple of the daily care of our three-generation Asian family, Rani gets extra attention from her caretakers during her pregnancy. Similar to humans, it is important for Asian elephants to maintain a strong core, healthy body condition and flexibility to ensure a smooth labor. Through positive reinforcement training and a trusting relationship, Rani's caretakers encourage her to participate in daily "ab workouts," "cardio" and stretching. Rani's family also helps her to stay in shape by joining her in foraging and exploring their habitats. When it's hot outside, they will also take a nice family swim together!

In the first part of our ongoing series, "Rani's Journey," River's Edge Keeper Tori Boston explains some of these vital exercise and training sessions in which Rani voluntarily participates.

March 10, 2020: Monitoring Rani

In October we announced that our 23-year-old Asian Elephant, Rani, is pregnant and due to give birth this summer. In the second part of our ongoing series, “Rani’s Journey,” Dr. Corinne Kozlowski, Saint Louis Zoo Endocrinologist, describes how they are scientifically monitoring Rani’s progesterone levels (commonly known as the “pregnancy hormone” even in humans), which will help the elephant care staff prepare for the impending birth. 

May 7, 2019: Mother-to-be

Just in time for Mother’s day we want to put the spotlight on our mother-to-be, 23-year-old Asian elephant Rani, who is due this summer. The Zoo’s bull elephant, 27-year-old Raja, is the father. This has been a long journey for Rani, as elephants are pregnant for nearly two years! Pictured Here: Rani is enjoying the sunshine and warmer weather surrounded by her family in River's Edge.

Photos: Joshua Sydney-Smith
You can learn more about Rani’s Journey at

June 11, 2020: A look at the Family Tree

In October we announced that our 23-year-old Asian elephant Rani was pregnant and due to give birth this summer. In honor of Father’s Day this Sunday, we wanted to acknowledge the “father-to-be,” 27-year-old Raja. Raja was the first elephant born at the Saint Louis Zoo, and the new calf will be the fifth offspring he's sired.
The Saint Louis Zoo is home to a multi-generational Asian elephant family. As we look forward to the addition of Rani’s calf, here is a look at our Asian elephant family tree.

June 16, 2020: Ultrasounds

I am Dr. Sathya Chinnadurai and I am the Director of Animal Health at the Saint Louis Zoo. In the Department of Animal Health, we are fortunate to have a team of veterinarians and veterinary technicians, along with quarantine, pathology and support staff that provide for the medical needs of all the animals that call the Saint Louis Zoo home. As you have heard, Rani, our 23-year-old Asian Elephant, is pregnant.  The veterinary staff has been working with the Animal Care team in the River’s Edge, as well as our Endocrinology and Nutrition teams to monitor and care for Rani throughout her pregnancy. As with human pregnancies, one of the most important parts of prenatal health care is ultrasound monitoring of both the mother and the baby, also known as a sonogram.  

Even during the Zoo’s public closure for the pandemic, the animal care team has worked with Rani to allow for twice-weekly ultrasound evaluation. Due to an elephant’s large size, it is difficult to see the entire calf with an ultrasound probe placed on the abdomen, so we use a combination of techniques to assess Rani and the baby. First, we assess Rani using a technique similar to that used for a cow or horse, and from this approach, we can see the cervix and part of the uterus and monitor for any changes in the shape and size of those organs as well as see the normal fluid in them.  After that, we perform a more typical transabdominal examination of the uterus and the baby. We are looking for any changes in the placenta and uterine fluid and checking the baby’s size, movement and position.

Today, the baby is moving around quite a bit. We can see fetal movement on Rani’s abdomen and on ultrasound, when we see the baby it is active and moving.

We will continue to monitor Rani and the baby at least twice weekly up until the birth of the baby and will monitor them closely even during labor to make sure that everything is progressing normally.