Ultrasound images and blood hormone analysis have confirmed that one of the Oklahoma City Zoo's Asian elephants, 18-year-old Asha, is seven months pregnant.
The average gestation for elephants is 22 months, making the due date sometime in December 2014.
“We are cautiously optimistic because it is early in the pregnancy,” said Dr. Jennifer D'Agostino, director of veterinary services. “We will focus on giving Asha the best prenatal care possible, with carefully monitored nutrition, exercise and regular checkups through ultrasounds and blood work.”
Nick Newby, the zoo's pachyderm supervisor, said, “It's exciting that Malee, Asha's first calf, may get to be a big sister. She will be 3 years old when the calf arrives, which is a great age for her to learn mothering skills by watching her own mother give birth and care for the calf.” Malee's aunt, Chandra, also is part of the zoo's multigenerational herd.
Asha's first pregnancy went smoothly, and Malee is thriving, weighing more than 2,000 pounds.
“Asha has proved to be a great mother — she's diplomatic, setting boundaries when she should, while giving Malee the appropriate freedom to explore,” Newby said.
Rex, the father-to-be, arrived Dec. 13, 2011, to join the zoo's adult female elephants Asha and Chandra and then-8-month-old female Malee, bringing the zoo's Asian elephant herd to four. Born in India, estimated to be 43 years old and weighing in at 8,000 pounds, Rex came to the zoo from Canada.
Rex previously sired five offspring; three males and two females. Malee's father, Sneezy, lives at the Tulsa Zoo. This is the second pregnancy for Asha, who was born at the Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Mo., on Feb. 2, 1995, and has lived in Oklahoma City since Dec. 1, 1998. Asha's younger sister Chandra, born July 2, 1996, has yet to conceive.