St. Louis Zoo Welcomes Baby Elephant
Updated with photos of new calf & naming information May 6:
The St. Louis Zoo has announced that the elephant has been named Priya (pronounced Pree-yah) after 53,692 votes from the public were counted.
The name means "dear" or "beloved" and received just over 29 percent of the votes. The runner-up name was "Willow."
Original story from April 27:
Late Friday night the St. Louis Zoo's 42-year-old Asian elephant, Ellie, gave birth to a female calf. With the new addition the zoo’s elephant herd now grows to ten.
The calf is Ellie’s third and the fourth for the calf’s father, 20-year-old Raja.
“Mom and baby are doing really well, they’re bonding this morning and sleeping,” said Curator of Mammals for the St. Louis Zoo, Martha Fischer. “They need some rest and they’re both doing great.”
The zoo says the calf is about 38 inches tall and weighs 251 pounds.
Fisher and her staff closely monitored Ellie during her pregnancy, which lasted two years, the typical gestation period for elephants.
“She’s just a fantastic mother, she knew exactly what to do,” Fischer said. “It’s just a joy to watch her and her family accept this new calf.”
Fischer said the calf was up on her feet shortly after her birth.
Fischer said the calf will spend the next few weeks bonding with the rest of the herd, and is confident the public will have the chance to view her in person this summer. Public viewing could come much sooner than that, but Fischer said it’s hard to predict at this point.
Asian elephants are endangered, and it's estimated that there are between 30,000 to 50,000 in the wild.
As for a name for the new calf, the zoo is welcoming the public to vote:
The Zoo’s elephant care team was asked to select a few potential female names for the elephant. From now through midnight, Sunday, May 5, 2013, you can vote for your favorite name: Cai (Pronounced “Ki”, rhymes with “Hi”) – means feminine Violet Willow Harper Priya (Pronounced “Pree-yah”) – means dear, beloved To vote for your favorite name online, visit www.stlzoo.org, www.facebook.com/stlzoo, www.twitter.com/stlzoo and www.pinterest.com/stlzoo. You may also vote in person at both Zoo Welcome Desks or by mailing a “Vote for the Baby Elephant Name” postcard with your name, address and your desired elephant name to Name the Baby Elephant, Saint Louis Zoo, #1 Government Drive, St. Louis, MO, 63110. The winning name will be announced on Monday, May 6, 2013.