ST. LOUIS, MO. (KTVI) - Priya, the newest elephant at the St. Louis Zoo, made her first public appearance Wednesday morning.
“There she is!” yelled one woman. “She is so cute!”
Others craned their necks and stretched their arms to snap pictures of the little, hairy Asian Elephant calf. Actually, she was little only when compared to her mother who gave birth in April.
“Now she weighs 310 pounds, so almost 60 pounds in less than a month,” the zoo’s Mammal Curator, Martha Fisher, smiled. “Absolutely normal weight. Absolutely normal gestation. Her mom, Ellie, is just and exceptional mom. She is doing a great job raising this young one.”
When Priya scurried across the sand, small children screamed her name. So, did teenage boys on a high-school field trip. Fischer was smiled at what could be the next generation of conservationists getting so excited about Priya’s debut.
“We’re excited about every birth at the zoo. With elephants, especially, because elephants are very endangered in the wild,” she pointed out. “There are probably fewer than 50,000 Asian elephants left in the wild, so very few.”
Fischer added that poaching kills an average of about 80 African Elephants a day.
“So, every elephant whether in the zoo or in the wild is incredibly important to make sure these species don’t go extinct.”
Zoo staff handed out bubble gum cigars. “It’s a girl!” was printed on the wrapper.
"We want everyone to be excited about our elephant family here, so that they care a lot about the elephant families that are in the wild,” Fischer said. “And hopefully, it will inspire them to go out and help us conserve them in the wild.”
You can see Priya for yourself at the St. Louis Zoo in Forest Park, weather permitting.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013 from 2 – 4 p.m.
Thursday, May 23, 2013 from 10 a.m. to noon and from 2 – 4 p.m.
Friday, May 24, 2013 from 10 a.m. to noon and from 2 – 4 p.m.
Find out more: St. Louis Zoo