Newest member of zoo's Asian elephant herd tips the scales at 1,015 pounds this week
She was born big — with an outsize personality to match — and now her weight has reached quadruple digits: Lily, the Oregon Zoo's youngest Asian elephant, tipped the scales at more than a 1,000 pounds this week, not quite 10 months after her birth last November.
"Lily's not only a quick study, she's a fast grower," said Bob Lee, the zoo's elephant curator. "She's packed on more than 700 pounds in under 10 months. She gains about 2½ pounds every day even though she never stops moving."
"She gains about 2½ pounds every day even though she never stops moving."
—Bob Lee, Elephants curator
Lily, born Nov. 30, weighed a hefty 300 pounds at birth and has been described by zoo animal-care staff as a "spitfire."
"She's definitely not shy," Lee said. "She competes with the bigger elephants for enrichment toys and treats. She doesn't just wait for her turn — she's right in there with the others being a true member of the herd. She likes carrots and apples, and she's pulling leaves off branches just like mom. She's still nursing, but the amount of milk she takes each day varies quite a bit now that she's eating more solid food."
Lily's taste for fruit has allowed keepers to begin daily training sessions with the young elephant — encouraging her, through positive reinforcement, to participate in the routine checkups and veterinary tests needed for her healthcare.
"We train the elephants in a lot of behaviors geared toward their care," said senior elephant keeper Shawn Finnell. "She's learning to open her mouth so we can check her teeth and gums, and she's learning to pick up her feet, which will be very helpful for her care throughout her life. Getting the animals to participate voluntarily makes it so much easier if we need to administer medical treatment."
Like most kids, Lily likes to play.
"She's been enjoying daily play sessions with her big brother, Sam," Finnell said. "She's usually the one who initiates the play. They like to play King of the Mountain on a huge sand pile. Sam always lets her win. Or she'll splash into the pool and then bellow at the top of her lungs for Sam to come play with her. She's not a quiet elephant."
And like most kids, Lily is very inquisitive.
"She's interested in everything around her," said Lee. "Especially the construction taking place outside her habitat."
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