St. Louis Zoo elephant Ellie pregnant -

St. Louis Zoo elephant Ellie pregnant

The Saint Louis Zoo has announced that Ellie, one of its Asian elephants, is pregnant. She is 38 years old. This will be her third birth. Her daughter, Maliha, will turn four years old on August 2, 2010. Her 14-year-old daughter Rani is also pregnant.

The Zoo's bull elephant, 17-year-old Raja, is the father of both babies. He was the first Asian elephant ever born at the Zoo in 1992, and this calf will be his fourth offspring. An elephant pregnancy lasts about 22 months. Ellie will be due to deliver in late summer 2011. Rani will deliver in mid-summer 2011.

"We are looking forward to this pregnancy," says Curator of Mammals Martha Fischer. "Ellie has proven to be such a good mother, and we are optimistic that everything will go well. We have already begun to prepare for both deliveries," adds Fischer. "We are developing exercise plans with stretches and exercises specifically designed to get these elephants ready for the rigorous delivery," Fischer said.

A newborn elephant weighs about 250-350 pounds. "Both elephants are receiving regular prenatal and ultrasound exams by the veterinary team. Soon we should be able to determine the gender of both babies with blood tests."

Ellie lives with Maliha, Rani, Jade and the rest of the elephant herd at the Zoo's River's Edge habitat. She and Rani arrived at the Saint Louis Zoo in 2001 from the Jacksonville Zoo, where Rani was born in 1996.

Both elephant breedings were recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Elephant Species Survival Plan, a national cooperative breeding and management program.

There are fewer than 35,000 Asian elephants left in the wild, and they are facing extinction. Given the shrinking population of Asian elephants, the Saint Louis Zoo is committed to conserve this species. Also, the Zoo supports the welfare and conservation of Asian elephants in Sumatra, Sri Lanka and other countries in Asia through the International Elephant Foundation, as well as the conservation of African elephants in Kenya.

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