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Oklahoma City Zoo Celebrates Birth of Rama The Asian Elephant, Who Got Famous With His Ultrasound Even Before He Was Born
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Oklahoma City Zoo Celebrates Birth of Rama The Asian Elephant, Who Got Famous With His Ultrasound Even Before He Was Born

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If you’ve been following Bored Panda news for long enough, you might have stumbled upon an article from a bit over a year ago, late November of 2020.

While the world was preoccupied with the coronavirus pandemic back then, a zoo in Oklahoma shared an ultrasound of a baby elephant that made the world stop for a second and all go aww.

Yep, the internet might be obsessed with baby animals, but this is a new level because this baby wasn’t even born back then.

But now he is. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome Rama, the Asian elephant born to parents Asha and Rex.

More Info: Oklahoma City Zoo | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Remember the baby elephant ultrasound everyone was talking about back in late November of 2020?

Image credits: Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden

Rama (meaning “pleasing” in Sanskrit) the Asian elephant first came up on the internet radar back in late November of 2020, when Oklahoma City Zoo announced its beloved then 25-year-old mommy elephant Asha, now 26 years of age, was pregnant.

The announcement was made when Asha was 8 months pregnant—that is 8 of the 22 total months (about 660 days) elephant pregnancies last. The original prognosis was sometime in February, 2022, which back then felt like a long way away, but here we are. Rama was born on January 20, 2022, at 8:26 p.m., inside the Zoo’s elephant barn at Sanctuary Asia.

Throughout the pregnancy, zookeeping and veterinary teams were giving their undivided attention to make sure Asha’s pregnancy went smoothly. And it did. She gave birth to her now fourth calf (and also the fourth one born in OKC Zoo), and her first male offspring.

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Speaking of numbers, Rama also bring the Oklahoma City Zoo Asian elephant count to 8, with the other seven elephants being Bamboo (54), Rex (53), Asha (26), Chandra (25), Kandula (20), Achara (7), and Kairavi (3).

Well, the day has finally come and the tiny elephant in that ultrasound has been born

Image credits: Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden

Image credits: Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden

Image credits: Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden

We got in touch with Rachel Emory, Oklahoma City Zoo’s Curator of Elephants and Rhinos, to tell us a little bit more about Rama and the other Asian elephants in the zoo.

“One of the best things about elephant calves is that they are extremely inquisitive and every day is a new learning experience,” explained Emory. “For the first several months, Rama will stay very close to his mom Asha, his aunt Chandra, and his two sisters, Achara and Kairavi.”

“He spends most of his time interacting with his family herd and learning how to be a baby elephant, nursing from his mom, and taking frequent baby naps. After about 3-4 months, he will start to gain interest in solid foods (such as bananas and cantaloupe), and at that time we will begin more formal training with him for voluntary medical behaviors. Right now, Rama is still trying to figure out how to use his trunk and keep up with his big sisters.”

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Chandra, Asha’s sister, as well as Achara and Kairavi, who are her other two children, were present in the barn during the birth, allowing them to observe the delivery—a crucial part in helping the family connect with their newest member.

The newborn baby elephant was named Rama, which is Sanskrit for “pleasing”, on January 20th, 2022

Image credits: Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden

Image credits: Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden

Image credits: OKC Zoo

Now, why is all of this important? As mentioned in our previous article, Asian elephants are an endangered species. They have lost around 93% of their habitat to date, forcing elephants to compete with humans and other members of the animal kingdom for resources.

“Asian elephants are an endangered species with less than 40,000 individuals left, and, unfortunately, they have several factors that are threatening their sustainability on this planet,” elaborated Emory. “This issue is much more complicated than simply increasing population numbers, as one of the biggest threats to Asian elephants is habitat loss. Asian elephants have lost over 93% of their total habitat which doesn’t leave much room for expanding current populations.”

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“Unfortunately this leads to significant human-elephant conflict, as elephants wander into cities, raid crops, and are hit by cars and trains. In order to tip the scale in the elephant’s favor, what is left of their habitats must be preserved and an understanding of living alongside wildlife must be achieved.”

“In addition, several diseases greatly impact elephant populations, such as Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpes Virus (EEHV), which has a 65% fatality rate. The science behind the monitoring and treatment of this disease, both in human care and in the wild, grows deeper each year.

Rama is the fourth offspring and the first son of 26-year-old Asian elephant mother Asha

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Image credits: OKC Zoo

Image credits: OKC Zoo

Image credits: Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden

Image credits: Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden

As a result, Rama’s role in the Asian elephant survival is one of great importance, with the zoo claiming he’ll become an ambassador for his species, and the salvation of this majestic animal depends on new generations, a part of which Rama has now become.

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“Rama will spend the first several years of his life with his family herd here at the Oklahoma City Zoo. In the next few months, he will also be introduced to Kandula, a unrelated 20-year old male, who will likely be a great influence in teaching him how to become a bull elephant,” explained Emory.

“Kandula and the family herd will all spend their days and nights together in the various habitats. Once Rama reaches sexual maturity, he will likely receive a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Elephant Species Survival Plan® to relocate to a new Zoo to breed with unrelated females, as he would in a wild herd. This will give Rama the opportunity to breed and produce offspring of his own someday.”

OKC Zoo is now home to a total of 8 Asian elephants: Bamboo (54), Rex (53), Asha (26), Chandra (25), Kandula (20), Achara (7), and Kairavi (3)

Image credits: Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden

Image credits: Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden

Image credits: Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden

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As for Asha, Emory says that she is recovering just fine from parturition, and has shown that she’s an excellent mother the moment she laid eyes on Rama.

“With this being her fourth calf, she is very experienced in helping Rama navigate his new world and keeping him safe and comforted,” elaborated Emory. “Asha is currently in the prime of her life being 26 years old. The median life expectancy for Asian elephants is 47 years old, but they can often live into their 50s-60s with advancing medical care.”

“Asian elephants can continue to breed into their 30s and 40s, and Asha will continue to contribute to the population for several more years until physical signs show us it is no longer in her best interest.”

You can check out the zoo’s special video celebrating the birth of Rama below

Image credits: OKC Zoo

Oklahoma City Zoo is committed to the restoration of Asian elephant populations through education and investing in various conservation projects. And you can join the cause by donating, or at the very least following them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube and spreading the word.

Oh, and elephant fans rejoice as you can shower Rama and the Zoo’s elephant herd with tons of love by supporting Asha’s virtual baby shower. Alternatively, you can text RAMA to 41444 to support elephant conservation, care and enrichment (message and data rates may apply).

And you can also read more about Asha, Rama before he was born, and other elephants in our previous article here. But before you go, tell us your thoughts, and share your congratulations to the elephant family in the comment section below!

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seco67redcam avatar
Melanie Bulseco
Community Member
2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Some elephants are pregnant for 27 months and some for 34. It depends on what kind of elephant it is. I.E.: the African Elephant, is one type of elephant.

seco67redcam avatar
Melanie Bulseco
Community Member
2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Some elephants are pregnant for 27 months and some for 34. It depends on what kind of elephant it is. I.E.: the African Elephant, is one type of elephant.

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