It's baby season at the Fort Worth Zoo! Last month, precious Belle the elephant was born and now baby Belle plays aunt to the newest and cutest in town, baby Bowie, who weighed nearly 230 pounds at birth and stood 37.5 inches tall. Bowie makes the third calf born at the Fort Worth Zoo, a top-ranked zoo in the nation and a leader in elephant breeding and conservation.
Belle was named after Bluebell, a wildflower found throughout Texas. Bowie, (boo-ee) is a familiar name to many Fort Worthians and Texans alike for the Historic Camp Bowie District, in addition to Jim Bowie, a key figure in the Texas Revolution. For the Fort Worth Zoo to have two calves born into the breeding program, is a huge accomplishment, not only for the Zoo, but also for the endangered species, the Asian elephant. With the elephant population facing so many risks such as habitat alteration, decrease in reproduction rates, increase in mortality rates (due to poaching of males for their ivory tusks), it is even more important for zoos to concentrate breeding efforts on Asian elephants for the future conservation of the species.
Fun Facts about Baby Asian Elephants from the Fort Worth Zoo:
- Newborn calves usually stand within one hour of birth.
- When born, Asian elephant calves are covered in a reddish-brown fur that usually sheds and darkens as they grow older.
- During the first months of its life, the elephant calf stays very close to its mother and nurses frequently, consuming about three gallons of milk each day.
- Baby elephants nurse from the first year of life until about age 6 in captivity, and between ages 3 and 4 in the wild.
- The mother isn't the baby's only caretaker – all the other females in the herd become "aunts" and immediately begin helping the mother care for the calf.