FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) -The bubble gum cigars proclaim, "It's a girl". A new "bundle of joy" made her first appearance today at the Fort Worth Zoo.
The Asian elephant calf walked out along with its mother, 40-year-old Rasha, as zoo visitors watched. The baby elephant, which at some point could weigh in the neighborhood of 6,000 pounds, is only the second elephant calf birth in the Fort Worth Zoo's 104-year history.
Ramona Bass sits on the board of the Fort Worth Zoo and said she couldn't be more thrilled with how everything went. "It [labor and delivery] isn't a guarantee. You never know how the birth's going to go. You never know how the mother's going to react and this was a picture-perfect birth."
Fort Worth Zoo executive director Mike Fouraker detailed how things went for Rasha. "She was pregnant for 22 months; that's a long gestation. She went into labor Sunday night, about 1:30 in the morning. It was a very quick labor. She was only in labor for two hours. As a result of that, we have a healthy, 330-pound female calf that we're very excited about."
Asian elephants at the Fort Worth Zoo are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan. "It's [the birth] very important to us," Fouraker said. "It's a very significant birth. These are an endangered species and to have one born in our zoo is a really, truly exciting event."
According to the International Elephant Foundation, there are only between 30,000 and 40,000 Asian elephants left in the wild.
"That is so exciting and rare. There were only two calves born last year, in the United States," Bass explained. "It's important for everybody to know that these births and the conservation work we do in zoos is critical to the survival of these magnificent animals."
There were lot oohs and aahs as the baby elephant walked around… never too far from mom. The zoo is now holding a naming contest for the new elephant.
Visitor Gabby Henderson and two of her friends grabbed a ballot and pencil to make their choice. "It says, 'name the baby elephant. Choose one of the names,'" she read.
Members of the zoo staff came up with six names and listed the meaning of them on the ballots. Gabby and her friends seem to focus in on the name Tujuh. "Tujuh (too-joo) is cool because it means seven and it was born in the seventh month, on the seventh day, of the seventh moon."
The naming contest will run through July 25. You can vote at the Asian elephant exhibit inside the Fort Worth Zoo or click here to go to the Fort Worth Zoo Facebook page to vote.
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