The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is home to a seven-member, multi-generational Asian elephant herd with one on the way! Asha, 26, is in the home stretch of her approximate 22-month gestation period at 21 months pregnant. Due in late January, early February 2022, we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Asha’s fourth Asian elephant calf. Keep reading for a bump-date on Asha’s pregnancy from the Zoo’s Elephants and Rhinos Curator, Rachel Emory:
“In preparation for the birth of Asha’s calf, the elephant care team has been running weekly “drills” for scenarios that would require intervention for emergency medical treatment of the calf during the birthing process. However, we’re hopeful to be able to stand back and quietly watch Asha help her new calf onto his/her feet and begin forming that crucial mother-baby bond. With this being Asha’s fourth calf, she has become quite the experienced mother, and we’re very confident in her parenting skills.
Throughout the pregnancy, we have closely monitored the health of Asha and her calf. Through trans-abdominal ultrasounds, we’ve been able to monitor the calf’s movement and growth. Each week, we collect a voluntary blood sample from Asha in which we monitor her hormones related to pregnancy and her overall health. In addition, we closely monitor Asha’s body condition, and her weight is recorded at least once per week. Asha has gained several hundred pounds throughout the course of this pregnancy, which isn’t surprising considering all of her previous calves have weighed more than 300 pounds at birth!
Every member of the elephant herd participates in twice daily exercise and training sessions. This is a particularly important routine to maintain with Asha during her pregnancy. A healthy weight and good muscle strength are crucial for smooth delivery of her calf. She has continued to spend all of her time with her family group including her sister, Chandra, and two calves, six-year-old, Achara, and three-year-old, Kairavi (Kai), as well as other members of the herd, throughout the day and night.
Once the calf arrives, our team is excited to watch the young one form a bond with his/her two siblings, Achara and Kai. These two sisters can usually be found swimming, playing, sparring and getting into mischief together. We are so excited to watch as they take Asha’s new calf under their “trunk” and teach him/her how to be a baby elephant in our herd.”
- Rachel Emory, elephants and rhinos curator
Photo of Achara, Kai and Asha!