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After 655 days of pregnancy, Phoebe the Asian elephant at the Columbus Zoo gave birth to a healthy baby calf on March 27. With the gentle encouragement of mom, the male calf stood within 15 minutes, which you can enjoy in the video at the bottom of the post (note the video has no sound). 

Asian Elephant Newborn Columbus Zoo

Columbus Zoo Trumpets News of Elephant Birth - March 30th, 2009

The much anticipated birth of an Asian elephant calf at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium occurred on March 27 at approximately 2:35 p.m. after a 655 day gestation period. The male calf stood within 15 minutes.

Phoebe's health was monitored throughout her pregnancy including an exercise regimen and regular ultrasounds and blood draws. On Wednesday her progesterone levels dropped significantly indicating the onset of the birthing process. Phoebe and her calf will continue to be observed around the clock for the next few weeks.

To allow Phoebe and her new baby time to form a strong bond, Zoo visitors are currently unable to see them. The Zoo will announce viewing information when it becomes available.

This is 21-year-old Phoebe's third offspring and her second with sire Coco, 38 years of age. Phoebe and Coco made Columbus Zoo history on April 16, 2004 with the arrival of Bodhi (BO-dee), the Zoo's first successful elephant birth. Thirty-five-year-old Connie completes the Columbus Zoo elephant herd.

"I commend the dedicated staff and volunteers who love and care for these animals every day, and who have devoted their time and expertise to make this joyful event possible" said Jeff Swanagan, the Columbus Zoo's Executive Director. "We look forward to watching him grow and since baby elephants develop fast - Bodhi gained 2 1/2 pounds a day - people will want to visit him often."

An endangered species, Asian elephants are represented by an estimated 38,000 to 51,000 individuals living in fragmented populations in the wild. Agriculture, deforestation and conflict with humans pose a constant threat to wild Asian Elephants.

"We have the opportunity every day to inspire people to care about wildlife and take an active role in conservation. An encounter with a living being, especially one as a magnificent as an elephant, offers a vital link to conservation," stated Swanagan.