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The Reid Park Zoo announced the addition of its newest animal Monday afternoon after African elephant matriarch Semba gave birth to a new calf at 3:30 a.m.
The female calf weighed 295 pounds at birth. The zoo said she is “healthy, standing and nursing.”
“Semba is an experienced mother,” said Dr. Sue Tygielski, Director of Zoological Operations, in the announcement. “After 22 long months of gestation, she had smooth labor without any complications. As African elephants continue to face increasing challenges in the wild, each birth contributes to the global population and sustainability of this vulnerable species. Today, the birth of this calf gives us cause for celebration at Reid Park Zoo, and it gives us optimism for the future.”
The new calf is the sixth member of Reid Park Zoo’s elephant herd, and joins Semba, father Mabu, female Lungile, nine-year-old brother Sundzu and little sister Nandi, who turns six this summer. The calf is the second African elephant born at the zoo. Nandi was born in 2014.
The herd has already met their newest member, and will take the next few days getting to know her.
“Semba is an excellent mom, and she has had close and nurturing interaction with the calf,” Tygielski said. “Elephant births are exciting but also a test of patience for staff and the elephant mom.”
The zoo began observing breeding behavior between Semba and Mabu in late spring of 2018, and soon found out the former was pregnant. The zoo crew has been on a 24-hour baby watch for the last seven weeks.
“This is a great day for Reid Park Zoo, and really, a beacon of hope,” said Nancy Kluge, Reid Park Zoological Society President and CEO. “Coming during this challenging time in the world, this baby elephant is a symbol of the beauty and resilience of life for so many. We are just thrilled for Semba and the whole herd. We are grateful to our community for following Semba’s pregnancy, especially while the Zoo has been closed. We look forward to the day when we can welcome the public back to Reid Park Zoo to help us celebrate the joy of this new baby and our elephant herd.”
Check in on the newest elephant in Tucson for yourself by following her webcam at reidparkzoo.org.

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