LOUISVILLE ZOO: ELEPHANT MIKKI AND CALF DEBUT

By Kyle Shepherd
05-Sep-2019

 

Louisville, KY –  Mikki and her one-month-old male calf made their public debut today.

As this is still an acclimation period for the calf and Mikki, public viewing times will be limited, varied and subject to change. Zoo guests can visit louisvillezoo.org/mikki to see daily updates for elephant viewing.  

During the last month, Mikki and her calf have been bonding in their indoor space and recently started spending mornings outside in the elephant yard before the Zoo opens. 

Punch, the Zoo’s Asian elephant and matriarch of the herd, will be on a rotational schedule with Mikki and calf while the herd’s acclimation process continues. Although Punch and the calf have observed and smelled one another from adjacent stalls, they have not been together in shared spaces. As with any new animal, the Zoo staff will observe the elephants’ behaviors closely to determine when they are ready for each new step.

African elephant Mikki gave birth to the male calf at 11:24 p.m. on Friday, August 2, 2019. It is only the second elephant born at the Louisville Zoo in the Zoo’s 50-year history.

The night of birth, the calf measured 38.5 inches tall, 30.3 inches long (body, head to tail) and 78 inches from the tip of his trunk to the tip off his tail. 

 Mikki gave birth after nearly a 22-month gestation (651 days). She became pregnant through artificial insemination in October 2017 with the help of Dr. Schmitt, the leading North American expert in elephant reproductive physiology and veterinary management. Mikki was carefully monitored and well cared for throughout her pregnancy. Staff worked hard to regulate Mikki’s diet and exercise her daily in order 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’ (AZA) elephant breeding program is administered under the auspices of the Elephant Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative program 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 the conservation of their counterparts in the remnant wild.

To help the Zoo and the community celebrate the birth of this important elephant calf, the Zoo’s gracious partners at Churchill Downs (Twin Spires), Louisville Waterfront Park (Big Four® Bridge) and Louisville Gas and Electric building lit their iconic structures green for a few days following the birth. Green symbolized this calf’s significant birth as part of the world-wide conservation efforts on behalf of this magnificent and vulnerable species.

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The Louisville Zoo, a non-profit organization and state zoo of Kentucky, is dedicated to bettering the bond between people and our planet by providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors, and leadership in scientific research and conservation education. The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).