Omaha zoo excited to welcome baby elephant: Claire due in February 2022

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 10:00 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium officials said Monday that Claire, one of the elephants housed there, is progressing in her pregnancy and due early next year.

Dennis Pate, the zoo’s CEO, Pate announced Claire’s pregnancy in March as the zoo was celebrating the five-year anniversary of the arrival of its main elephant herd. At the time, he said Claire was about halfway through her pregnancy. Callee, the father, was added to the Omaha herd from the Birmingham Zoo in Alabama on May 29, 2019.

Pate said Claire is about 75% of the way through her pregnancy and is due around mid-February.

Dr. Laura Kleinshcmidt, an associate veterinarian and certified zoologist, explained how zoo caretakers read Claire’s ultrasound, noting the heartbeat, which they said is visible at three months. She also shared details about the gestation period, noting that baby elephants tend to move around a lot in utero.

Rebecca Wyatt, the lead keeper of the elephants a the zoo, said Claire has had no change in diet, but does love fruit. But Claire has exhibited some changes in sleeping patterns, choosing anywhere flat to lie down rather than taking advantage of other terrain in the environment that she preferred prior to her pregnancy.

Claire is also getting a fair amount of exercise and is still playing with the littler elephants as she has always done. She is visibly pregnant now, and that’s particularly evident in her mammary glands, Wyatt said.

The weight of an elephant baby is about 260 pounds, Dr. Kleinshcmidt said, noting that to date, Claire has gained about 600 pounds so far, which is about 15% of her body weight.

Caretakers do regular blood work and monthly ultrasounds but will ramp up to weekly ultrasounds around December to make sure everything is still on track and going well.

After the update, zoo personnel gave a demonstration of the elephants’ training.

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