Semba, a 24-year-old African elephant, successfully delivered a female calf Wednesday night at Tucson's Reid Park Zoo.
The unnamed calf was born at 10:55 p.m. and both mother and calf were doing well in the Click Family Elephant Care Center under the watch of the elephant team, zoo officials said.
It is Semba's third calf, but the first elephant ever born at Reid Park Zoo, officials said.
Keepers and trained volunteers have been observing Semba's moves around-the-clock since early July. On Thursday, Semba moved more slowly than usual, but continued to eat and interact with the rest of the herd.
At approximately 10:35 p.m., she began to exhibit signs of active labor, including laying down, walking backwards, and extending her tail, officials said. She gave birth very soon after.
She delivered the calf on her own and shortly after the calf hit the ground, she took her first breath, stood up within minutes, and began to nurse within the hour, officials said.
The calf had not been weighed as of Thursday morning.
The first 48 to 72 hours after birth are the most essential for Semba and her calf to form a strong physical and emotional bond, officials said.
No visitors or non-essential staff members were being admitted to the Elephant Care Center.
Once the calf nurses regularly and follows Semba instinctually, additional areas of the holding facility will be opened for them to explore. Keepers will also watch to ensure Semba is eating, drinking, and recovering normally from the physical stresses of labor, officials said. As the calf gains strength, she will be introduced to the rest of the herd.
"This birth, literally the largest in the history of the state of Arizona, represents a significant milestone for the zoo," zoo administrator Jason Jacobs said. "This birth would not have been possible without the vision and partnership of the city of Tucson, Reid Park Zoo, Reid Park Zoological Society, and San Diego Zoo Global."
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