OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — For the first time, 3 News Now caught a live look at the African elephant calf born to Kiki and Callee last week at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. Take a look at the herd in the Family Elephant Quarters.
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On Wednesday, Dennis Pate, Henry Doorly Zoo's president and CEO, gave information about the five-day-old calf, whose name has not yet been formally announced. However, Pate said that the elephant has been named as the result of a family who bought the naming rights during a ZooFari auction last September.
The calf could be seen ambling around underfoot of Kiki, sometimes nursing, exploring with its tiny trunk. It is a female calf that may have been born a bit prematurely due to its small size, caretakers believe. She is between 175 and 200 pounds by estimate.
"The staff, everybody here at the zoo is ecstatic about this because, part of the reason is because, you got to wait 22 months for it to happen. The patience required to follow this through with hormone levels and baby-proofing the exhibit, and all the what-if scenarios that the elephant staff and the veterinary staff have put together so that we could be prepared no matter what happened."
Pate described that the herd huddled around Kiki as she gave birth last Friday at 11:33 a.m.
"It sort of serves to unify the whole herd," Pate said. "They'll all start taking some ownership over the calves that are in the herd and it will start to feel to them more like a family unit."
She is currently the only baby elephant born in the United States. But soon, she will not be the only one.
The public will be able to view Kiki's calf as soon as a few weeks, where timed ticketing and heat lamps will be implemented to accommodate but manage crowds. However, that depends on the arrival of yet another calf at the zoo.
Claire's calf could arrive anywhere from two days to two weeks from Wednesday. Because an elephant's skin can be up to an inch thick, ultrasound imaging can be difficult to read. The arrival of Claire's calf could affect the general public's ability to view Kiki's calf.
Pate said all of the information that they have about Claire's soon-to-be-born baby points to it being a successful birth. The arrival of both baby elephants is special not just to the zoo but unique in the nation.
"If you want to see an elephant in North America, you gotta come to Omaha, Nebraska to see that. Beyond just how cute it is to watch them move and follow them, it's important for the sustainability of elephants in North America. This calf and the next one gives us hope that we will start to build a more sustainable population."