Asian elephant baby born at Saint Louis Zoo

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Asian elephant baby born June 24, 2011 at Saint Louis Zoo. Photo by Katie Pilgram/Saint Louis Zoo.

Asian elephant baby born at Saint Louis Zoo

Jun 24, 2011

The Saint Louis Zoo is proud to announce the birth of an Asian elephant on Friday, June 24, 2011. Rani [pronounced RAH-nee], the Zoo's 15-year-old Asian elephant, gave birth at 1:13 p.m.

"Mother and baby are bonding very well," says Curator of Mammals Martha Fischer. "The baby appears healthy and is already walking around." The elephant care staff has not yet confirmed the weight or height, because Rani is being very protective of her newborn.

Mother and baby are not yet on public display, and a debut date has not been set.

"Rani was protective of her baby from the start,” says Fischer. “She did a great job of carrying and giving birth to a beautiful baby.”

This is Rani’s second baby and the third for Raja, the baby’s father. Raja was the first elephant ever born at the Saint Louis Zoo. Now, at age 18, he has his own family, with daughter Maliha, born on August 2, 2006, and Rani’s first daughter, Jade, born February 25, 2007.

"The River’s Edge staff has been busy preparing for this particular baby for the past two years, says Fischer. “It’s so rewarding to have made it to this day.

“We are all just overjoyed to have the baby with us,” she adds. “We have welcomed a new member in our family.”

For the past two months, the Zoo staff was on a 24-hour pregnancy watch. They also monitored her progress with an ultrasound exam and tracked her progesterone every day. When Rani’s progesterone dropped two days ago, the Zoo staff knew she would deliver within 1-13 days.

The Zoo will announce a “Name the Baby Elephant” poll at a later date.

Asian Elephants Are Critically Endangered

The Saint Louis Zoo has been actively involved with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ 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’s no question that the Asian elephant is facing extinction,” Bonner continues. “It’s estimated there are only 35,000-50,000 left in the wild. Besides working with the AZA Species Survival Plan, our Zoo also supports conservation projects for Asian elephants in Sumatra and supports the efforts of the International Elephant Foundation.”

The Saint Louis Zoo has been named America’s #1 Zoo by Zagat Survey and Parenting Magazine. One of the few free zoos in the United States, the Saint Louis Zoo is renowned for its natural exhibits, diverse collection of animals and dedication to conserve endangered species and their habitats. The Zoo attracts 3,000,000 visitors each year and is open every day except December 25 and January 1.



June 24, 2011

Media Contacts:

Saint Louis Zoo 314/781-0900

Janet Powell, ext. 4633

Christy Childs, ext. 4639; Joanna Bender, ext. 4703

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