OKC ZOO CELEBRATES BIRTH OF ENDANGERED ASIAN ELEPHANT CALF
January 21, 2022
It’s a boy! Both mother, Asha and newborn calf are healthy, spending time together bonding.
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is proud to announce that Asian elephant, Asha, 26, has given birth to a healthy, male calf. Wildlife fans around the world have been anticipating the arrival of the OKC Zoo’s newest elephant calf since Asha’s pregnancy was announced in 2020 and now, the wait is over – he’s here! Rama, Sanskrit for pleasing, was born on Thursday, January 20, 2022, at 8:26 p.m., inside the Zoo’s elephant barn at Sanctuary Asia. The Zoo’s veterinary and elephant caretaker teams report that Asha’s delivery went smoothly and she and Rama are in good health and have been spending time together bonding. Rama is the fourth calf to be born at the Zoo and the fourth offspring for Asha, bringing the total number of Asian elephants at the Zoo to eight.
The Zoo’s veterinary and elephant caretaker teams were present for the delivery and reported the birth required no medical intervention. Asha’s sister, Chandra, and her offspring Achara and Kai, were inside the elephant barn with her during the birth allowing them to observe the delivery, an important component to this family group connecting with their newest member. The vet team performed a visual newborn exam following the birth and determined the calf is in excellent health. Rama has also achieved vital developmental milestones including standing approximately 20 minutes post-delivery and successfully nursing within two hours of birth.
“With this being Asha’s fourth calf, she has become quite the experienced mother and we’re confident in the excellent care she will provide Rama,” said Rachel Emory, OKC Zoo’s curator of elephants and rhinos. “We’re excited to watch Rama grow with his elephant family and become an ambassador for his species. Asian elephants are endangered so the future of these magnificent animals depends on new generations including Rama to help sustain the Asian elephant population.”
Throughout Asha’s nearly two-year pregnancy, the Zoo’s veterinary team conducted ultrasounds and hormone level testing. When they noted a large drop in Asha’s progesterone levels on Tuesday, January 18, they knew Rama’s arrival was imminent and the vet and elephant caretaker teams went on 24/7 “baby watch”. Asha also participated in training sessions to help prepare her for the birth with her caretakers on a weekly basis and continued to exercise with the herd during her pregnancy.
Asha arrived at the Zoo in 2008 from Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Missouri. Rama’s father Rex, 53, came to the Zoo in 2011 from Canada’s African Lion Safari. The pair are also parents to Achara, 7 and Kairavi, 3.
The Oklahoma City Zoo’s Asian elephant herd also includes: Kandula, 20; Bamboo, 54; and Chandra, 25.
Rama and mom, Asha, will be viewable to guests periodically throughout the day from inside the elephant barn at Sanctuary Asia and, weather permitting, the two will have access to their outside habitat.
The breeding recommendation for Rex and Asha was part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Asian Elephant Species Survival Plan®, a cooperative breeding and management program responsible for maintaining a genetically healthy population of Asian elephants in AZA-accredited zoos.
The OKC Zoo is committed to the conservation of Asian elephants and their habitat through its global partnerships. Asian elephants are endangered, facing unique challenges that threaten the species’ survival. Asian elephant populations in the wild have fallen below 40,000. The 13 nations that make up the natural habitat of Asian elephants contain the most dense human population on the planet and, as a result, vital habitat for elephants has been reduced by 85% in 40 years. Furthermore, Asian elephants are much more susceptible than African elephants to EEHV, a fast-moving virus with a 60% fatality rate.
Since 2010, the Zoo has contributed more than $400,000 to elephant-related conservation. In addition to supporting the Northern Rangelands Trust since 2009, which protects elephants and other native species in Kenya, the Zoo partnered with the Rainforest Trust to purchase and preserve 13,000 acres of forest in central Sumatra and 18,000 acres of forest in Borneo, both of which are natural habitats for Asian elephants. The Zoo has also supported a number of other elephant conservation projects, including the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Rakhine Yoma Elephant Range Project in Myanmar and International Elephant Foundation’s conservation efforts in Sumatra. These projects support boots-on-the-ground teams that work to protect forests, prevent poaching and habitat encroachment.
Shower our new arrival with a trunkload of love by supporting Asha’s virtual baby shower. A donation to the OKC Zoo’s growing elephant herd provides tons of support towards Asian elephant conservation, care and enrichment. Donations can be made online at www.zoofriends.org/babyshower or by texting RAMA to 41444. Message and data fees may apply.
Boy oh boy come meet our big bundle of joy, Rama! The Oklahoma City Zoo is in its winter hours and open Thursdays through Mondays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with the last entry no later than 4 p.m. The park is closed to the public during daytime hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays through February 9. Purchase advance tickets for general admission at www.okczoo.org/tickets. Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the OKC Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Regular admission is $12 for adults and $9 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free.
Stay in the know on all things Zoo-related on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linktree and TikTok, and by visiting our blog stories. Zoo fans can support the OKC Zoo by becoming a ZOOfriends member. Starting at $45, memberships can be purchased at ZOOfriends.org and provide access to the OKC Zoo for an entire year plus, additional benefits and discounts. To learn more about Zoo happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.