For only the second time in the Louisville Zoo’s 50-year history, an elephant has been born there.
Mikki, a 33-year-old African elephant, gave birth to a male calf at 11:24 p.m. Friday.
“It’s an exciting day at the Louisville Zoo,” Louisville Zoo Director John Walczak said.
Mikki, calf and herd mate – Asian elephant Punch – will be off exhibit while the herd bonds. An announcement of a public debut will be made at a later date.
During the birth, Mikki was attended to by the Zoo’s Animal Health Center and elephant keeper staffs as well as Dr. Dennis Schmitt, the leading North American expert in elephant reproductive physiology and veterinary management.
“Mikki gave birth to a strong and vigorous bull calf.” Schmitt said. “The delivery was textbook. All the staff, both elephant and veterinary staff knew their roles and performed them perfectly.”
Immediately after the birth, the veterinary team performed a neonatal exam. The calf measures 98 centimeters tall, 77 centimeters long (body, head to tail) and 198 cm from the tip of his trunk to the tip off his tail.
“We are so thrilled for Mikki and this calf. ... Raising a calf is one of the most enriching things an elephant can experience,” Walczak said. “I am very proud of our staff and the amazing job they did to ensure a smooth and safe pregnancy for Mikki and for the calf during birth.”
Mikki gave birth after a gestation period of 651 days, nearly 22 months. She became pregnant through artificial insemination in October 2017 with the help of Dr. Schmitt.
Mikki was carefully monitored and well cared for throughout her pregnancy. Staff worked hard to regulate Mikki’s diet and exercise her daily to minimize weight gain and get her fit for the delivery. Ultrasound exams and blood hormone monitoring were performed regularly to track the pregnancy.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ elephant breeding program is administered under the auspices of the Elephant Species Survival Plan, a cooperative of all accredited zoos with elephants. The plan promotes the survival of elephant species into the future by providing linkages between zoo animal “ambassadors” and conservation of their counterparts in the wild.