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Oregon Zoo’s newest member (Rose-Tu’s baby elephant) got a name. After more than 17,000 people cast their votes to name the baby elephant, the winner, with 35% votes was Samudra (or Sam for short).  Samudra is Hindi for “lord of the ocean”

To keep up on Samudra, you can follow him at the Oregon Zoo’s newsroom website located here.

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If most of you follow my Twitter, you would have read that I was viewing the birth of the newest addition to the Portland Zoo.

On Saturday, Bruce’s work had their company picnic at the Oregon Zoo. We were fortunate as the timing was perfect as Rose-Tu, a 14 year old Asian elephant went into labor (on Friday morning at 9:30 a.m.). The zoo had a viewing area (a live feed video) of Rose-Tu and her other female elephant companions in the adjacent barn. Here the local media and the public watched Rose-Tu go through labor in anticipation of seeing her new baby elephant calf.

I entered the viewing area around 11 a.m. and watched patiently as Rose-Tu continued with her labor. By 11:30 a.m. her water had broke. By 2 p.m., not much had progressed since her water broke and things seemed to stall in her labor. By that time, I was famished, so I decided to go join the picnic for a while and enjoy the festivities. At around 2:45 p.m., my daughter and her friend decided to go back and check on Rose-Tu to see if anything had progressed. I got a call around 3:30 or so from my daughter stating that they had given Rose-Tu a shot to induce labor and that it would be any time for her to have her calf. Of course, I had to drop everything I was doing and went back to the viewing area.

When I got there, you could tell that Rose-Tu was in active labor as she was walking around a lot and occasionally stopping to bear down. After about 20 minutes or so, Rose-Tu pushed and half of the calf was showing. A few minutes later, another contraction and Rose-Tu bared down one more time and the baby male calf was born! It was the most emotional, beautiful and exciting moment ever! It was so intense and the public/crowd was cheering and “ooing and aahing”…it was such an amazing sight!

Immediately after the calf was born, Rose-Tu starting kicking the calf around (a normal act to get the calf to stand up and start breathing). But after a few moments, Rose-Tu started getting too aggressive with the calf and the zookeepers were afraid that Rose-Tu would hurt the calf. The video cameras shut down immediately from the public viewing. We were all concerned for the baby calf and had to wait to hear further from the zoo the condition of the calf and mom.

According to zoo officials, “two hours after the birth, the baby had his first meal,” spokesman Bill LaMarche said. “He’s been calling out to his mom, and his mom has been calling back.”

Currently, mom and baby are separated for precautionary reasons. However, as of yesterday morning, the keepers have given Rose-Tu opportunities to see and even touch trunks with the baby. When the baby calls, Rose-Tu answers.

Rose-Tu’s calf is the 28th Asian elephant born at the Oregon Zoo, internationally known for its successful breeding program. The string of births began April 14, 1962, with Packy, the first elephant born in North America in more than 40 years.

For more information, pictures and updates about Rose-Tu and the baby calf, visit the Oregon Zoo’s Newsroom website.

It definitely was an exciting weekend and one that I will not forget!

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