OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — On Thursday, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium CEO Dennis Pate announced that female elephant Claire is expecting a 250-300 pound bundle of joy around February of next year. That's big news considering only two to three elephants are born in North America each year, Pate said.
Bull elephant Callee has shown a strong bond with the cows and is a “proven breeder” during his time with the herd, according to Pate. Considering there are only about 10-11 bull elephants in North America, Pate said that’s a big deal. He also mentioned that Callee may even be lent out to other zoos now that he's shown that capability.
"There is compatibility to this too," he said. "That’s a little bit of the art to go with the science is trying to understand when you see two elephants together is this going to happen between them or not."
The zoo previously tried to breed another bull, Louie with the females, but Pate said he didn’t prove to be as “popular” with them.
Mother elephant, Claire is 12-years-old; being pregnant now, while she is young. could help her conceive in the future. As female elephants age, especially those who haven’t given birth, they may have problems conceiving.
The zoo is already thinking about ways to baby-proof the exhibit such as adding wires to the barriers so the baby can't sneak through any openings.
Trainers are working with Claire on new skills like putting a rope around her wrist should she need assistance with her birth.
"That’s a voluntary thing," said Sarah Armstrong, Elephant Manager. "Make a game of it. You can put your foot up, see how quickly we can put a rope around you and know its going to come back off and only good things are going to happen while you’re on this rope."
Although an ultrasound has been performed, the gender of the elephant has not been revealed and will likely not be known until birth.
Pate said toes of the developing baby can be seen in this ultrasound picture of the baby:
The gestation or pregnancy period for Claire will be about 22 months, which is typical, by the time the new baby arrives.
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