Oregon Zoo elephant has 300-pound baby girl

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by KGW.com Staff

KING5.com

Posted on November 30, 2012 at 10:58 AM

Updated Friday, Nov 30 at 5:59 PM

PORTLAND - Rose-Tu, an elephant at the Oregon Zoo, gave birth at 2:17 a.m. Friday to a girl. The calf weighed 300 pounds.

“The calf is beautiful, healthy, tall and very vigorous," said Oregon Zoo director Kim Smith, "As soon as she hit the ground — before she was even out of the amniotic sac — she was wiggling. And she’s vocalizing loudly."

It's too soon to determine when the calf and Rose-Tu can take visitors.

Watch: Meet Rose-Tu's new baby

“Rose should allow the calf to nurse regularly, sleep, play and generally act like a calf without trying to stop it and control its movements. Then we’ll determine whether she’s calm and comfortable with staff around," said Bob Lee, the zoo’s elephant curator. "And finally, we want to make sure the calf has had a chance to bond with the rest of the herd.”

The zoo will compile a list of names for the newborn calf and the public will have a chance to help choose, Smith said.

“Rose is doing considerably better this time around,” Smith said. “When Samudra was born, it was four days before she would even let him come near her, so we’re much farther along this time. We’re starting to see motherly behavior from Rose, and the calf is already nursing a bit. These are great signs that the mother-calf bond will be a strong one."

Click to see YouTube video of the ultrasound

Wednesday night, Rose-Tu was showing tell-tale signs that the birth was coming.

"Animal-care staff reported that the Asian elephant, now in her 22nd month of pregnancy, is showing signs of discomfort, an event that usually indicates active labor will begin within 24 hours," Najarian said.

Active labor in Asian elephants usually lasts around 12 to 36 hours.

“Rose’s blood-progesterone level dropped noticeably a few days ago, and we’ve been watching her 24/7 since,” Lee said. “But these things happen according to their own schedule. Rose is still happily munching on hay and bamboo. We’re not too concerned about how much time it takes as long as Rose and her baby are safe and healthy."

He added that there are many risks associated with elephant births, so they will continue to monitor Rose-Tu and the baby very closely.

When Rose-Tu gave birth to Samudra in 2008, her labor lasted about 36 hours. She had never experienced a birth before and became very confused and agitated, which can happen with first-time mothers, according to Dr. Mitch Finnegan, the zoo's senior veterinarian. He said that in that case, keepers quickly intervened.

“That last birth easily took a year off my life,” Finnegan said. “I hope this one goes easier.”

Rose-Tu's fans can track all her updates on the zoo's baby elephant blog.

Rose-Tu was placed in isolation and under 24-hour watch earlier in the week. Zookeepers have been spending the night in cots near the huge elephant, watching and waiting.

Raw video: Rose Tu in 'maternity ward'

The Oregon Zoo has 50 years of experience in birthing and raising Asian Elephants, and a very high success rate to go along with it.  Smith said they're excited for a healthy finish after 20-plus months.

Ultrasound video below:

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