The Fort Worth Zoo is now home to TWO Asian elephant calves! Belle, daughter to Rasha, was born July 7, 2013, and Bowie (boo-ee), son to Bluebonnet, was born Aug. 5, 2013. Bowie’s 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 (Elephas maximus): four females and three males.
Belle was born July 7, 2013, weighing 330 pounds and standing 38 inches tall. Because the initial bonding between an elephant calf and its mother is vital to a successful rearing, Belle didn’t make her Zoo debut until July 11, allowing her time to connect with her mother Rasha in an off-exhibit area. Belle is the second elephant calf birth in the Fort Worth Zoo’s 104-year history and her arrival was a city-wide celebration. A naming contest was held at the Zoo and on its Facebook page for fans to choose the baby’s name. After a two-week voting period, Belle (short for Bluebell) was declared the winner. Both Belle and her sister Bluebonnet (born at the Zoo in 1998) are named after Texas wildflowers. Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price declared July 25 “Baby Elephant Day in Fort Worth” and encouraged everyone to wear pink.
On July 31, Belle was introduced to an inflatable kiddie pool. What originally began as an attempt to familiarize Belle with water quickly became an international video sensation. The video of a gleeful, 378-pound Belle rolling around in the small blue pool and splashing water with her trunk appeared on the “Today” show, “Good Morning America” and news networks including CNN, Fox News Channel and BBC, to name a few.
Bowie was born Aug. 5, 2013, only a short 30 days after Belle’s arrival, weighing 230 pounds and standing 36 inches tall. His arrival transformed the Fort Worth Zoo’s elephant group into a three-generation herd, making Bluebonnet a mother, Rasha a grandmother and Belle an aunt. This family dynamic mimics how herds are established in the wild. Bowie is named after Jim Bowie, a legendary figure of the American frontier and a hero of the Texas Revolution. All three of the elephants born at the Fort Worth Zoo have authentic, Texas-inspired names that start with the letter ‘B.’
Since Bluebonnet was a first-time mother, and Bowie arrived more than a month early, Zoo staff allowed for plenty of private time for Bowie and Bluebonnet to bond in an off-exhibit area. To announce his arrival, Fort Worth Zoo posted the cryptic message “It’s a Boy!” on its social media accounts, billboards around the DFW Metroplex and had a plane flown over I-30 and Globe Life Park in Arlington carrying the same message through the sky. Bowie was debuted to the public on Aug. 22.
Video: Baby elephant painting
Female voiceover: Come see the biggest baby in town. Our brand new baby elephant is a 300-pound bundle of joy, so bring your family and come help us celebrate our newest addition today, only at the Fort Worth Zoo.
Video: Baby elephant with its mother
Video: Baby elephant splashing in kiddie pool