OKC ZOO PROUDLY ANNOUNCES BIRTH OF FIRST ASIAN ELEPHANT / 2011
OKC ZOO PROUDLY ANNOUNCES BIRTH OF FIRST ASIAN ELEPHANT
EDITOR'S NOTE: A press conference will be held April 16, 1:15 PM at the Elephant Habitat. Interviews with Zoo Executive Director Dwight Scott and possible members of the of the Elephant Care Team. Interested media should arrive at the Zoo's Guest Relations office by 1:15 pm. Photos of mom and newborn will be sent out shortly. The elephants will not be on display.
Tara Henson, (405) 425-0219, (405) 919-9038 / [email protected]
Candice Rennels, (405) 425-0298 / [email protected]
She's arrived! The Oklahoma City Zoo & Botanical Garden is proud to announce the first elephant birth in the Zoo's history! Asha, a 16-year-old Asian elephant, delivered a healthy 304 pound female calf Friday night, April 15 inside the Oklahoma City Zoo's new Elephant Habitat. Sneezy, the 39-year-old father resides at the Tulsa Zoo.
Attended by the Zoo’s elephant care team and assisted by the Zoo’s veterinary staff, Asha delivered her calf at 9:13 p.m. Sister and now, Aunt Chandra, almost 15-years-old watched from afar.
The Zoo’s elephant care team will keep first-time mom, Asha and her calf under a 24-hour watch for the next few days and possibly weeks. Mom and yet-to-be-named newborn will remain off public view to allow time for bonding and to monitor their health. Chandra may remain inside during this time as a support to her sister and to gradually meet her new herd member.
The Zoo’s elephant care team including veterinary staff and a core group of Zoo volunteers have been monitoring Asha closely for the past year. Over the past six weeks the Zoo began a 24-hour birth watch to record behavioral information as part of the Elephant Birth Wellness Program. Weekly ultrasounds to monitor the baby’s health and blood work to gauge the mother’s progesterone level began shortly thereafter. A partnership with the INTEGRIS Bennett Fertility Institute allowed for daily progesterone tests which helped the Zoo pinpoint a 3 to 5 day window for the birth. Throughout the delivery, Asha was attended by the elephant care team and assisted by Zoo veterinary staff.
More than 40 volunteers and Zoo staff began a seven-day a week, 24-hour birth watch March 1 utilizing a state-of-the art, closed-circuit television system, the birth watch team observed and documented Asha's behavior. When blood tests indicated Asha's progesterone level had fallen to a baseline level, Zoo
veterinarians and members of the elephant care team remained at the Elephant Habitat nonstop watching for indications that labor might begin. "This has been an extraordinary team effort, said Dwight Scott, Zoo Executive Director. "We will remain steadfast in our determination to further the conservation of this incredible species and I am extremely proud of our team for their dedication."
Zoo staff would also like to thank sister Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) zoos such as Tulsa and Houston for lending their support and expertise throughout this process.
As an accredited institution of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), the Oklahoma City Zoo remains committed to the long-term survival of Asian elephants in the North American population and support programs in Asia to help elephants in the wild.We participate in AZA's Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program to help ensure genetic diversity and demographic stability in North American zoos. Asian elephants are dwindling in the wild, an estimated 30,000 are all that remain.
Updates on the progress of Asha and her infant will be posted on the Zoo's website at http://okczoo.com/okczoo.com and our facebook fan page at http://facebook.com/okczoobgfacebook.com/okczoobg.