Newest member of zoo’s elephant herd is born at 2:17 a.m. on Nov. 30
The long wait is over. Rose-Tu, an 18-year-old Asian elephant, gave birth to a 300-pound female calf at the Oregon Zoo at 2:17 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 30.
“We’re all delighted at the arrival of Rose-Tu’s new calf,” said Kim Smith, Oregon Zoo director. “The calf is beautiful, healthy, tall and very vigorous. As soon as she hit the ground — before she was even out of the amniotic sac — she was wiggling. And she’s vocalizing loudly. The first time we heard her, the sound was so deep and loud that we thought it was Shine. She’s definitely got a great set of pipes, and it looks like she’s going to be a real pistol.”
Smith said Rose-Tu is doing well after more than 30 hours of labor and more than 21 months of pregnancy, thanks to a daily exercise regimen that has kept her in top shape. Zoo staff and much of the surrounding community had been on baby watch since Nov. 25, when Rose-Tu’s progesterone levels dropped to near zero, indicating labor should begin soon. Rose entered early labor in the afternoon of Nov. 28 andbegan showing signs of active labor around 12 a.m. today.
Immediately following the birth, the zoo’s animal-care staff took the calf aside to clean it and perform a quick veterinary checkup, and they are now working to reintroduce the mother and calf.
“Our keepers and veterinary staff have put an extraordinary amount of work and care into helping Rose-Tu bring her baby into the world,” Smith added. “The time spent training and preparing has paid off, and the outcome is exactly the one we’d hoped for: Rose is safe and healthy, and she has a beautiful newborn calf. Now that the baby’s here, we’re all excited to watch her bond with Rose-Tu and take her place in the herd.”
It might still take a little time before the new baby is ready for visitors though.
“The main thing determining that will be the strength of the bond between Rose-Tu and the calf,” said Bob Lee, the zoo’s elephant curator. “Rose should allow the calf to nurse regularly, sleep, play and generally act like a calf without trying to stop it and control its movements. Then we’ll determine whether she’s calm and comfortable with staff around. And finally, we want to make sure the calf has had a chance to bond with the rest of the herd.”
Now that elephant keepers know the calf is a girl, they’ll choose a short list of possible names and the zoo’s elephant fans will have a chance to vote online, the same way they helped name big brother Samudra in 2008. Keep an eye on oregonzoo.org for more information.
The Oregon Zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, Western pond turtles and Oregon spotted frogs. Other projects include studies on black rhinos, Asian elephants, polar bears and bats.
The zoo relies in part on community support through donations to the Oregon Zoo Foundation to undertake these and many other animal welfare, education and sustainability programs. The zoo is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26 at exit 72. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Find fare and route information online or by calling TriMet Customer Service at 503-238-RIDE (7433).
General zoo admission is $10.50 (ages 12-64), $9 for seniors (65 and up), $7.50 for children (ages 3-11) and free for those 2 and younger; 25 cents of the admission price helps fund regional conservation projects through the zoo’s Future for Wildlife program. A parking fee of $4 per car is also required. Additional information is available by calling 503-226-1561.