Rose-Tu, an Asian elephant at the Oregon Zoo, gave birth to a 300-pound female calf early Friday morning.
The birth occurred at 2:17 a.m. Kim Smith, the Oregon Zoo's director, said the calf is "beautiful, healthy, tall and very vigorous."
"As soon as she hit the ground — before she was even out of the amniotic sac — she was wiggling. And she's vocalizing loudly. The first time we heard her, the sound was so deep and loud that we thought it was Shine. She's definitely got a great set of pipes, and it looks like she's going to be a real pistol," Smith said.
Smith said Rose-Tu is doing well after more than 30 hours of labor and more than 21 months of pregnancy, thanks to a daily exercise regimen that has kept her in top shape.
The Portland metro area had been on baby watch since Nov. 25, when Rose-Tu's progesterone levels dropped to near zero, indicating labor should begin soon.
Rose-Tu entered early labor in the afternoon of Nov. 28 and began showing signs of active labor around midnight last night.
Immediately following the birth, the zoo's animal-care staff took the calf aside to clean it and perform a quick veterinary checkup, and they are now working to reintroduce the mother and calf, the zoo said.
There's a noticeable improvement from the last time Rose-Tu gave birth, when she tried to trample Samudra in 2008.
"Rose is doing considerably better this time around," Smith said. "When Samudra was born, it was four days before she would even let him come near her, so we're much farther along this time."
It might still take a little time before the new baby is ready for visitors. Bob Lee, the zoo's elephant curator, said the zookeepers will be paying close attention to the strength of the bond between Rose-Tu and the calf.
"Rose should allow the calf to nurse regularly, sleep, play and generally act like a calf without trying to stop it and control its movements," Lee said. "Then we'll determine whether she's calm and comfortable with staff around. And finally, we want to make sure the calf has had a chance to bond with the rest of the herd."
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