Sunday, January 25, 2009

Stanley visits the Oregon Zoo and sees our baby elephant

Things got quite exciting at the Oregon Zoo this summer when a new baby elephant was born. Here is a press release from the zoo on August 23rd.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Rose-Tu, a 14-year-old Asian elephant and first-time mother, gave birth to a 286-pound, male calf at the Oregon Zoo at 3:56 p.m. on Aug 23. The first-time mother seemed confused during the birth and showed aggression to the calf. Veterinarians and keeper staff quickly intervened, but reintroduction efforts are now underway.

"The baby is calling to his mom and she's calling back," said Mike Keele, the zoo's deputy director and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' species survival plan coordinator for Asian elephants. "Our veterinarians have examined the calf to see if he sustained any injuries, however from the behavioral signs we've seen thus far, we're very hopeful."

Keele believes that because Rose-Tu had never seen a birth before, she became confused when the baby was born.

"After several failed but energetic attempts, the calf finally stood up and took his first few steps," said Keele. "He has a good suckle response and took water from a keeper's finger within the first hour after birth," he added.

The Oregon Zoo has a renowned breeding program for endangered Asian elephants. More than 25 elephants have been born at the zoo, beginning with Packy in 1962.

An endangered species, Asian elephants are represented by an estimated 38,000 to 51,000 individuals living in fragmented populations in the wild. Agriculture, deforestation and conflict with humans pose a constant threat to wild Asian elephants.

Since the baby elephant was born, he has gained over 500 pounds!!!! The baby elephant's name is Samudra, which is the Hindi for "Lord of the Ocean" because he really loves to take baths. He is quite a little cutie and he is learning how to use his trunk. Right now his trunk is very weak and he doesn't have much control over it. It's kind of like how you learned how to actually USE your arms and legs instead of just letting them flap around!

You can see how much smaller he is then his mother still, even though he's grown quite a lot.

Here is a fun video of Samudra playing with his blue ball.

After the elephants we went on to visit the Lorikeets. The Lorikeets are so beautiful and colorful. I just love them. Stanley thought it was very exciting how they landed right on Shannon's arm to sip nectar. He got a "bird's eye view" of them for sure!

The fruit bats were quite happy because they had fresh fruit to eat. They are not the most attractive creatures in the zoo, but they were busy!

Here Stanley got to meet a zookeeper and and a Western Screech Owl. The zookeeper is the one in red (ha!). Western screech owls are native to the western part of North America, so you probably don't have them in Ohio. Their wings stretch out to about 1 1/2 times their height! You can see his yellow eye - do you know what that means? It means he can hunt in the daytime or the nighttime. I thought that was interesting because it reminded me of my cat. He can see pretty well in the dark, but he can also see in the daytime, and his eyes are bright yellow like the owl. I wonder if that's a coincidence or an adaptation of both animals??

Just for fun Stanley rode the John Deere tractor that's at the zoo!

Here we all watched sea lions glide gracefully through the water. This exhibit is pretty net because you can go outside and see them from the top and then come in and see them underneath. I like the underneath better, and Stanley did, too. Last week at the beach Jeff and I saw a sea lion swimming in the ocean right near the shore.

Stanley liked this mountain goat statue that was near the zoo exit, so he climbed right on up with the baby mountain goat and went for a little ride. It snowed again in Portland today - you know Stanley still has no coat after all this time and he was getting pretty chilly - so we finally had to leave. All in all he thought the Oregon Zoo was a pretty special place. If you'd like to lean more, you can use this link.

Hope you have a great week at school. WORK hard and learn lots!

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