PORTLAND, Ore. - The Oregon Zoo's elephant mama is about to give birth to her second baby.
Zoo veterinarians are keeping a close eye on Rose-Tu as she comes into the final stretch of her pregnancy. This will be her second birth at the Oregon Zoo.
Rose-Tu has been carrying her baby for a while now. Elephants have the longest gestation period of any animal - 22 months.
The father is Tusko, the zoo's 40-year-old bull elephant. He and Rose-Tu are also the parents of Samudra, who was born back in 2008 and has been delighting zoo visitors ever since.
You might remember that when Rose-Tu gave birth to Samudra, she nearly trampled her baby. Zoo officials believe she was frightened and startled by giving birth since it was her first time and she had never experienced it before. They hope this time around Rose-Tu will not react that way because she knows what to expect.
About the Zoo's Elephants
The Oregon Zoo has had quite a successful breeding program for Asian Elephants - did you know that more than 25 elephants have been born there in the past five decades?
Packy's birth on April 14, 1962 was the first for the zoo and he was quite the celebrity when he entered the world. At the time, Packy was the first elephant to be born in the Western hemisphere in 44 years and the world was watching. Here's a retrospective the zoo put together for Packy's 50th birthday this year:
The Asian elephants at the zoo include Packy, Rose-Tu, Tusko, Samudra, Rama, Chendra and Sung-Surin.
According to the Oregon Zoo, there are only around 38,000 to 51,000 Asian elephants left in the world (habitat loss and conflict with humans has dwindled their numbers).
Asian elephants are listed as endangered and the Oregon Zoo is part of an Asian Elephant Species Survival Plan coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Fun Facts (courtesy of the Oregon Zoo)
- Asian elephants eat bamboo, fruit, leaves, shoots and grasses.
- Elephants use their trunks to communicate, touch, eat, drink and smell.
- An Asian elephant's lifespan is between 60 to 70 years
- Asian elephants generally weigh between 6,000 and 13,000 pounds