Henry Doorly Zoo welcomes new baby elephant

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium welcomed an African elephant calf Friday morning. This is the first elephant born at the Omaha zoo and officials say the calf was born at 11:33 a.m. by Kiki, an 18-year-old African elephant. It’s unknown of the gender and weight. The baby’s mother, Kiki, was put on a 24-hour-watch on Jan. 6 as staff noticed that labor could begin soon. The calf was delivered with all females in the herd present.  With this birth, the Elephant Family Quarters of Henry Doorly Zoo will be closed to the public so staff can observe the new elephant.

The 21-year-old father, Callee, arrived at the zoo in 2019. A second African elephant calf is expected to arrive this winter as well.

On Wednesday, Dennis Pate, Henry Doorly Zoo’s president and CEO, gave information about the five-day-old calf, whose name has not yet been formally announced. However, Pate said that the elephant has been named as the result of a family who bought the naming rights during a ZooFari auction last September.

The calf could be seen ambling around underfoot of Kiki, sometimes nursing, exploring with its tiny trunk. It is a female calf that may have been born a bit prematurely due to its small size, caretakers believe. She is between 175 and 200 pounds by estimate.

“The staff, everybody here at the zoo is ecstatic about this because, part of the reason is because, you got to wait 22 months for it to happen. The patience required to follow this through with hormone levels and baby-proofing the exhibit, and all the what-if scenarios that the elephant staff and the veterinary staff have put together so that we could be prepared no matter what happened.”

She is currently the only baby elephant born in the United States. But soon, she will not be the only one. The public will be able to view Kiki’s calf as soon as a few weeks, where timed ticketing and heat lamps will be implemented to accommodate but manage crowds. However, that depends on the arrival of yet another calf at the zoo.

Pate said all of the information that they have about Claire’s soon-to-be-born baby points to it being a successful birth. The arrival of both baby elephants is special not just to the zoo but unique in the nation.

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