The Saint Louis Zoo's baby Asian Elephant, born on April 26, is experiencing new adventures every day as she explores the world under the watchful eye of her mother, Ellie. You saw the not-so-little calf's first baby pictures here on ZooBorns (she weighed 251 pounds at birth!).
In the video below, you'll see the female calf enjoying her first bath, courtesy of a zoo keeper with a hose! You can help name the baby on the zoo’s website through Sunday.
Mother and baby are not yet on public display, and a debut date has not been set. This is Ellie’s third baby and the fourth for the baby’s 20-year-old father, Raja.
“An experienced mother and grandmother, Ellie was, of course, very nurturing, caring for her newborn baby from the very beginning,” said Curator of mammals Martha Fischer. “She did a great job of carrying and giving birth to a beautiful baby girl.”
“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,” Fischer said.
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.