TUCSON, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- Oh, baby! Reid Park Zoo in Tucson has welcomed a new arrival, who weighs in at a whopping 295 pounds.
Semba, the zoo's 30-year-old African elephant, gave birth to a female calf just after 3:30 a.m. Monday. The calf, who doesn't have a name yet, is said to be healthy, standing up and nursing.
The baby's arrival has been a long time coming. Mom Semba carried the calf for 22 months in the womb. For more than seven weeks, the animal care staff and volunteers at the zoo have been on a 'round-the-clock “baby watch,” and the care team has been working to "baby-proof" the zoo’s elephant habitat.
“Semba is an experienced mother,” said Dr. Sue Tygielski, director of zoological operations. “After 22 long months of gestation, she had smooth labor without any complications. As African elephants continue to face increasing challenges in the wild, each birth contributes to the global population and sustainability of this vulnerable species."
“This is a great day for Reid Park Zoo, and really, a beacon of hope,” said Nancy Kluge, Reid Park Zoological Society president and CEO. “Coming during this challenging time in the world, this baby elephant is a symbol of the beauty and resilience of life for so many. We are just thrilled for Semba and the whole herd. We are grateful to our community for following Semba’s pregnancy, especially while the zoo has been closed. We look forward to the day when we can welcome the public back to Reid Park Zoo to help us celebrate the joy of this new baby and our elephant herd.”
Zoo staffers will continue to closely monitor Semba and her calf, ensuring they are receiving the best of care.
“Semba is an excellent mom, and she has had close and nurturing interaction with the calf," said Tygielski. "Elephant births are exciting but also a test of patience for staff and the elephant mom."
The calf is the second African elephant calf born at Reid Park Zoo, with her big sister Nandi being the first birth in 2014.