"For the first time in 27 years, a male Asian elephant was born at the Saint Louis Zoo!" the zoo announced on Twitter

By Claudia Harmata
July 07, 2020 03:53 PM
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Josh-Sydney Smith/Saint Louis Zoo

It's a boy!

On Monday, the Saint Louis Zoo welcomed a newborn male Asian elephant to their ranks, born at 1:55 p.m. The zoo’s 23-year-old Asian elephant, Rani (pronounced "Ronnie"), gave birth to the yet-to-be-named baby boy.

"For the first time in 27 years, a male Asian elephant was born at the Saint Louis Zoo!" the facility wrote on Twitter. "We are excited to announce Asian elephant Rani gave birth to Raja’s first son at 1:55 pm 7/6/20."

"Rani and baby are doing very well," Tim Thier, director of the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Asian Elephant Conservation said in a press release on the zoo's website. "We’re thrilled to welcome Raja’s first son into our three-generation elephant family."

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The zoo’s 27-year-old bull elephant, Raja, is the newborn's father. Raja was the first male Asian elephant ever born at the Zoo in 1992, and the new calf is his fifth offspring.

The calf's mother, Rani, is part of a 10-member, three-generation elephant family that includes her newborn, Ellie (her mother), Maliha, Jade (her daughter), Priya, Donna, Sri, Pear, and Raja, all of whom live at the zoo’s River’s Edge and Elephant Woods habitats

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"Breeding and calf rearing is one part of our robust, multi-faceted animal welfare program, and important to the elephants’ social structure," Katie Pilgram-Kloppe, zoological manager of River’s Edge said. "Our experienced, professional elephant care team is providing exceptional care for Rani and her newborn."

Rani and calf
Madi Culbertson/Saint Louis Zoo

According to the zoo, an elephant pregnancy lasts about 22 months and a newborn weighs about 250-350 pounds.

The Saint Louis Zoo recently reopened amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and made it "mandatory for zoo staff and guests ages 9 and above to wear masks/face coverings — which must cover nose and mouth — while visiting."

"Face coverings can help minimize virus transmission from asymptomatic individuals," the zoo said. "Keeping our animal and veterinary care staff safe and protected is the best measure to keep our animals safe and at minimal risk of exposure to a virus that we know very little about."

Rani and the baby are currently bonding away from public view and a debut date has not yet been set.