Indianapolis Zoo gets new 238-pound baby elephant

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 23, 2011 12:43 PM
Indianapolis Zoo gets new 238-pound baby elephant

By Susan Guyett

INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - The Indianapolis Zoo this week is celebrating the birth of a healthy 238-pound baby elephant, born to Kubwa, the only African elephant to conceive and give birth three times via artificial insemination, according to zoo officials.

The yet-unnamed female calf, born early Wednesday morning, is "very active and very curious," said Judy Gagen, the zoo's communications director.

She's also nursing well, although she needs a bit of help from a step stool arrangement to reach her very tall mom, Gagen said.

Kubwa's other calves also needed a step up to nurse their mom, who is known for her narrow ankles and hairy ears. The baby has also met the herd's matriarch Sophi and that introduction went well, Gagen said.

If things go well, the public might get a sneak peek at the new baby next week, although her appearance in one of the small yards won't be announced, Gagen said.

Kubwa, now 35 and 8,470 pounds, came to the Indianapolis Zoo from Mozambique when she was two years old. She became the first African elephant to become pregnant through artificial insemination in 1998 but her calf, Amali, died from an infection at the age of three.

She gave birth to a Kedar, a male calf, in October 2005 and the six-year-old still lives at the Indianapolis Zoo, Gagen said.

Gagen said no decisions have been made for naming the calf yet.

The Indianapolis Zoo has had five successful elephant births since 2000. Currently the Zoo has six African elephants, Gagen said.

(Writing and reporting by Susan Guyett; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Tim Gaynor)