Oregon Zoo's baby elephant Lily is set to meet public

December 11, 2012 - 3:14pm

Zookeepers say Rose-Tu's new calf is ready for her close-up

Lily, the Oregon Zoo's 11-day-old Asian elephant, is ready to make her much-anticipated public debut this week, veterinarians and keepers say. Beginning Friday, Dec. 14, Rose-Tu and her new calf will be together in the indoor viewing gallery of the zoo's Asian elephant exhibit.

Viewing hours are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., though keepers caution that these hours are subject to change. The well-being of Rose-Tu and her calf are the zoo's top priority, and visitor viewing may be closed if the animal-care staff feels the elephants need some additional quiet time. Changes in schedule will be posted as quickly as possible to the zoo's website. Visitors may also visit the site for updates, photos and videos.

In an effort to accommodate everyone, the zoo will be admitting 30 people at a time into the viewing gallery for five minutes each. Visitors who wish to spend more time can get in line again. If the line gets really long, not everyone may be admitted.

No flash photography is permitted in the gallery, and zoo officials have asked that guests remain quiet during their visit toavoid frightening Rose-Tu and Lily. Zoo volunteers will be on hand to answerquestions about the elephants.

"We appreciate everyone's patience and cooperation," said Kim Smith, zoo director. "We're taking things slowly to make sure Rose-Tu and her new calf are completely comfortable."

Lily, born Nov. 30 at 2:17 a.m., weighed a hefty 300 pounds at birth and has been described by zoo animal-care staff as a "spitfire."

"She's got quite a personality," said Bob Lee, elephant curator. "Lily continues to nurse and grow. She now weighs 316 pounds and is a little more than 3 feet tall at the shoulder."

Keepers say she is eating and sleeping well — and like most newborns, she does quite a bit of both. Rose-Tu has shown good maternal instincts and remains attentive to her new calf, keepers say.

Guests coming to see Rose-Tu's new baby are encouraged to bring baby shower "gifts" for human babies in need. Children's Relief Nursery, a community-based program of LifeWorks NW, will be collecting donations at the zoo this weekend. Babies in the local community are especially in need of infant formula (e.g., common brands like Similac Advanced); diapers in sizes 3, 4 and 5; pull-ups (all sizes); wipes; children's books and games (English and Spanish); and new car seats. LifeWorks NW is a nonprofit prevention, mental health and addiction services agency committed to supporting a healthy community.