Zoo celebrates birth of endangered African elephant, the second born in one month

African elephants are an endangered species, threatened in their natural habitat by illegal poaching and habitat loss.

So every new birth is a huge, welcome step towards keeping these beautiful animals from extinction. Several accredited zoos participate in breeding plans to ensure the conservation of the species.

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And after years of waiting, one zoo now has plenty to celebrate: two elephant calves have been born, both in the same month!

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium celebrated the miraculous milestone. We previously reported on the first birth: On January 7, the zoo announced that 18-year-old female elephant Kiki gave birth to her calf, the first elephant born in the zoo’s history.

Happy New Year to us! We’re excited to announce Kiki, an 18-year-old African elephant, gave birth to a calf at 11:33…

Posted by Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium on Friday, January 7, 2022

After the historic birth, the zoo announced that the calf was “doing well” and was being cared for by her mother.

In the weeks since, the baby has been growing up fast: on January 30, the zoo announced she weighed 187 pounds.

She also got a name: Eugenia, which means “noble” or “well-born.” Eugenia has taken her place in the elephant herd, and keeps close to her mom’s side.

“Kiki is doing a fantastic job helping the calf move through the spaces, supporting her when she nurses, and standing over her for as long as she needs to rest,” the zoo wrote on Facebook.

We have now been able to weigh Kiki’s calf three times now. The first two weigh-ins, she held weight at 181 pounds and…

Posted by Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium on Saturday, January 22, 2022

Ears out, trunk up and 187 pounds! While Eugenia and her mom are receiving their daily welfare checks in the back of…

Posted by Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium on Sunday, January 30, 2022

If the arrival of the zoo’s first-ever elephant calf wasn’t exciting enough, the Henry Doorly Zoo got double the good news just weeks later with the birth of their second elephant calf.

Claire, a 13-year-old African elephant, gave birth to a male calf on January 30, the zoo announced in a press release. Both mom and baby are “doing well.”

“Animal Care Staff implemented a 24-hour watch for Claire over the weekend when they noticed a significant and continual drop in her progesterone levels,” the zoo explained. “This and other behavior changes were also indications that labor would take place in the next few days.”

The new calf is Eugenia’s “half-brother.” Callee, a 21-year-old elephant who arrived at the zoo in 2019, is the father of both calves.

Double trouble 🐘 ❤️ (with double the mom power) 📸: Becca Wyatt, lead elephant keeper

Posted by Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium on Tuesday, February 1, 2022

The fact that both baby elephants, the first and second ever in the zoo’s history, arrived just weeks apart is remarkable. African elephants have the longest gestation period of any living mammal, averaging about 22 months. They also typically give birth one calf at a time — twins are extremely rare — and take long gaps between calves, often 4-5 years.

According to BBC Earth, this lengthy birthing process has contributed to the African elephant’s endangered status, making zoological breeding programs like this important in their conservation.

The Henry Doorly Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and in addition to caring for African elephants in captivity they have been part of elephant protection projects like the 96 Elephants Campaign, which encourages an increased crackdown on the illegal ivory trade, citing that 96 elephants a day are killed for their ivory.

While the arrival of the baby elephants has certainly garnered a lot of buzz and attention, the zoo says that fans will have to wait a bit to see the new arrivals in-person.

Their Elephant Family Quarters is currently closed to allow the calves and their mothers some private time, and “allow Animal Care Staff time to observe bonding, maternal behaviors and nursing.”

But they added that the elephants will be available for viewing via a reserved timed ticket once the area reopens in the future.

We’re sure that these beautiful baby elephants will delight visitors to the zoo, and hopefully inspire them to care about this species’ survival.

Congrats to the Henry Doorly Zoo on the birth of both of these beautiful newborn elephants. This is a big step towards protecting this majestic species from extinction, and we can’t wait to see these elephants grow up!

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