Fort Worth Zoo Celebrates Another Asian Elephant Birth
August 23, 2013
Male calf is second elephant born in 30 days
FORT WORTH, Texas – Fort Worth Zoo officials are delighted to announce the birth of a healthy, 37.5-inch-tall, nearly 230-pound male Asian elephant calf. Bowie (boo-ee) was born at 7:25 a.m. on August 5, 2013. He is the third calf born at the Fort Worth Zoo, arriving 30 days after the Zoo welcomed a female calf, Belle, in July.
Bluebonnet, the Zoo’s 14-year-old Asian elephant, gave birth to Bowie, her first calf, after a nearly 22-month gestation. Bluebonnet was carefully monitored throughout her entire pregnancy: As part of her prenatal care, she received weekly blood tests to monitor progesterone levels, regular physical examinations and sonograms. Genetic testing is being done to determine the calf’s paternity.
Bowie (boo-ee) is a name familiar to most Texans. Jim Bowie, a legendary figure of the American frontier, fought valiantly in the Texas Revolution and died at the Alamo.
Bluebonnet was the first elephant born at the Fort Worth Zoo. Her mother, Rasha, delivered Belle, Bluebonnet’s full sister, in July 2013. Bowie’s August 2013 arrival makes Rasha a grandmother and Belle an aunt – there are now three generations of elephants at the Fort Worth Zoo, which very much mimics how herds are established in the wild. In total, the Zoo is home to seven Asian elephants: four females and three males.
The initial bonding between an elephant calf and its mother is vital to a successful rearing. As the calf gets acclimated to his surroundings, he will be viewable at various times during the day. Those times will be dictated by his activity level.
Since establishing its elephant breeding program in 1986, the Fort Worth Zoo has become an international leader in elephant conservation. Zoo Executive Director Michael Fouraker served as president of the International Elephant Foundation (IEF) for nine years and currently serves on the organization’s board of directors and as president-elect of the board.
Listed as endangered since 1976, the Asian elephant is threatened by drastic habitat alteration. The species’ ability to reproduce in the wild to offset mortality rates has been questioned as well, due to poaching of male elephants for their ivory tusks. In zoos across North America, reproduction rates are a huge concern, as Asian elephant birth rates are not keeping pace with elephant mortality.
With the elephant population facing so many risks, it is of great importance for zoos to breed Asian elephants for the future conservation of the species. Fort Worth Zoo staff was ecstatic in 1998 after the arrival of Bluebonnet. With a third successful birth, the Zoo continues to establish itself as a leader in elephant breeding and conservation.
The nationally acclaimed Fort Worth Zoo has been ranked the No. 5 zoo in the nation by USA Travel Guide and the No. 1 attraction in the DFW Metroplex by Zagat survey. The Zoo is home to more than 500 animal species and a world-famous reptile collection, housed in the brand new Museum of Living Art (MOLA). The institution’s focus on education and conservation is second to none, enhancing the lives of more than 1 million visitors a year.
Statements from local and industry leaders:
What a wonderful surprise to welcome yet another baby elephant to this world here in Fort Worth. This newest addition to our world-class Zoo will bring excitement and joy to so many people – visitors and citizens alike. Thanks to the Fort Worth Zoo’s remarkable facilities and staff, I know this baby elephant is in very capable hands. We can’t wait to share him with the rest of the world.
Mayor Betsy Price
City of Fort Worth
We want to congratulate the Fort Worth Zoo on their recent elephant births. The successful birth is an important part of the overall program for conserving this species in zoos as an ark against extinction in the wild.
Douglas Myers, President/CEO
San Diego Zoo Global
We are thrilled to hear that Groucho is a grandfather. The birth of every elephant is important, and there are no better ambassadors to inspire visitors to help support zoo conservation efforts to save elephants in the wild. Congratulations to the Fort Worth Zoo!
Jim Breheny, Director
We hope the interest generated from the births of these two wonderful elephants will inspire people to develop an appreciation for elephants and conservation. Watching these baby elephants as they grow will encourage people to consider how they might get involved supporting efforts to conserve Asian elephants in range countries.
Charles Gray, President, Board of Directors
International Elephant Foundation
Elephants in human care contribute to vital research in health, welfare, reproduction and behavior, which directly benefits their wild counterparts. The birth of two Asian elephants at the Fort Worth Zoo is an important, positive step forward to ensure the survival of this endangered species.
Jim Maddy, President and CEO
Association of Zoos and Aquariums
I would like to congratulate Fort Worth Zoo for the second arrival of a newborn elephant this year, at the same time being the third birth of an elephant in the zoo history. While this is a great addition to the zoo based elephant population in the USA, this bull Asian elephant calf will be a perfect company for Belle.
Gerald Dick, Executive Director
World Association of Zoos and Aquariums
For further information, contact:
Alexis Wilson, Communications Director