IT'S A GIRL!
The Saint Louis Zoo announced 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. The birth was attended by the Zoo's veterinarians and elephant caretakers who are monitoring the health of the baby and Ellie. The calf was about 38 inches tall and weighed 251 pounds at birth.
And her name is... PRIYA!
Out of 53,692 votes submitted through multiple channels to the Saint Louis Zoo for its Name the Baby Elephant poll, Priya (PREE-yah) - which means dear, beloved - won with 15,777 votes or 29.4 percent. Runner-up Willow received 13,311 votes (24.8 percent); Violet received 12,508 votes (23.3 percent); Cai received 7,006 votes (13.0 percent); and Harper received 5,084 votes (9.5 percent).
About Mom and Baby
"Mother and baby are both doing very well," says Curator of Mammals Martha Fischer. "The baby is more and more mobile every day. She really has a fun personality and loves spending time with her mom and big sisters. She is figuring out what to do with her trunk and is already grabbing and picking things up with it."
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. See more about our three-generation elephant family.
"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. We are all just overjoyed to have her with us to help us continue to build a matriarchal herd," Fischer said.
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, conservation and protection of camp and wild Asian elephants in Sumatra and other countries in Asia through the International Elephant Foundation, as well as the community-based conservation and anti-poaching protection of African elephants in Kenya and Mali.
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.