Edit [Moderator]: Moved from General to Wilderness, Wildlife & Ecology.
very big event at Houston Zoo:
Elephant gives birth at last
By SALATHEIA BRYANT
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle
It's a girl. A 338-pound girl.
Shanti, the 13-year-old Asian elephant at the Houston Zoo, is finally a new mother.
After a 22-month gestation period and nearly 18 hours of labor, the elephant gave birth to a healthy three-foot tall calf at 7:41 p.m. Tuesday night.
"We are absolutely exhausted but deliriously happy," said zoo Director Rick Barongi in a written statement.
Birth-watch volunteers were monitoring Shanti by closed-circuit cameras when they saw the elephant's water break shortly before 2 a.m. Tuesday. It was a long-awaited magical moment originally expected in April.
Now the delicate process of reintroducing the baby and mother begins. It's not unusual for first-time mothers to hurt their calves, and Shanti has never seen a calf or another elephant give birth. Zoo officials are being very careful, opting not to allow outsiders to see the baby elephant, which is an endangered species.
"The baby is incredibly strong, and she was supporting her own weight and standing on her own in about an hour," said senior veterinarian Joe Flanagan. "Right away, Shanti began investigating this little elephant, touching her with her trunk."
The baby hasn't been named yet. Zoo officials will allow citizens to vote for their favorite name choice from several via their web site at www.houstonzoo.org.