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Five years of elephants: Omaha zoo announces calf expected next year

Published: Mar. 18, 2021 at 10:27 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 18, 2021 at 10:57 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium is celebrating the fifth anniversary of its main elephant herd’s arrival with an announcement that it’s growing — by one.

Dennis Pate, zoo president and CEO, announced Thursday morning that hormone work with the elephants has paid off, and one of the African elephants, Claire, is expecting.

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium celebrates the fifth anniversary of its elephants' arrival Thursday morning, March 18, 2021.

She is about halfway through the pregnancy and due around this time next year, Pate said. Zoo workers have been able to see some toes on an ultrasound, he said.

Announcing on Thursday, March 18, 2021, that one of the female elephants there is expecting,...
Announcing on Thursday, March 18, 2021, that one of the female elephants there is expecting, officials at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium shared images from the mother's ultrasound. The image on the right is a duplicate of the one on the left, highlighting the toes visible in the image.(Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium)

Callee, the father, was a welcome addition to the herd, Pate said, with all the female elephants taking an interest in him, and vice versa. With this pregnancy, Callee “is now a proven breeder,” Pate said.

Dennis Pate, president and CEO of Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, talks about elephants during an announcement on Thursday morning, March 18, 2021.

Sarah Armstrong, elephant manager at the zoo, also talked about some of the behaviors staff have observed in the elephants over the years.

An elephant at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium shows some of the behaviors zoo workers have been observing in the five years the animals have been there.

Elephant timeline

On March 11, 2016, 17 elephants arrived in the U.S. from the southern African country of Swaziland “as part of an ongoing rescue mission” after a complex and intricate logistical undertaking by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, according to a release from the zoo. The relocation sought to protect the animals from suffering during a terrible drought in their homeland.

Five females and one male were brought to Omaha; six elephants were taken to Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas, and five were taken to the Dallas Zoo, according to the Omaha zoo release.

The public were able to see the Omaha elephants on April 6, 2016, just ahead of the grand opening of the zoo’s African Grasslands exhibit, “a $73 million project that spans 28 acres,” on Memorial Day weekend that year. The exhibit also features the largest “herd room” for elephants in North America as well as extensive grasses, acacia-like trees, and kopjes.

A 17-year-old bull elephant, Louie, was added to the Omaha herd after his transfer from the Toledo Zoo in Ohio on June 23, 2017. Another bull, Calle, was added from the Birmingham Zoo in Alabama on May 29, 2019.

Callee is on his way from the Birmingham Zoo in Alambama to the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo...
Callee is on his way from the Birmingham Zoo in Alambama to the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium to join the herd in the Scott African Grasslands exhibit. He is expected to arrive Wednesday, May 29, 2019. (Scott Kayser / Birmingham Zoo) (WOWT)

Watch Thursday’s news conference

Five years of elephants in Omaha

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium is celebrating the fifth anniversary of its elephants’ arrival Thursday morning.

Posted by WOWT 6 News on Thursday, March 18, 2021

This is a developing story. Stay with 6 News for updates.

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