On Monday, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium officials said that Claire, one of the elephants kept there, is progressing in her pregnancy and will give birth early next year.
Dennis Pate, CEO of the zoo, Pate announced Claire’s pregnancy in March as the zoo was celebrating the 5th anniversary of its main herd of elephants. At the time, he said Claire was 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 expected to be around mid-February.
Dr. Laura Kleinshcmidt, a veterinarian and certified zoologist, explained how zookeepers read Claire’s ultrasound, recording a heartbeat they said was visible at three months old. She also shared details of the pregnancy, noting that baby elephants tend to move around a lot in the womb.
Rebecca Wyatt, the zoo’s elephant herd manager, said Claire has not changed her diet but loves fruit. But Claire has shown some changes in how she sleeps, choosing anywhere flat to lie down over taking advantage of other terrains in the environment she enjoyed before becoming pregnant.
Claire is also getting a lot of exercises and is still playing with the smaller elephants as she always does. Wyatt said she’s pregnant, and that’s especially evident in her mammary glands.
Dr. Kleinshcmidt said a baby elephant weighs about 260 pounds, noting that to date, Claire has gained about 600 pounds or about 15 % of her body weight.
Caregivers do regular blood work and monthly ultrasounds but gradually increase to weekly ultrasounds around December to make sure everything is on track and going well.
After the update, the zoo staff demonstrated the elephant’s training process.