FORT WORTH, Texas -- Just 30 days after the arrival of a rare Asian elephant calf, Belle, the Fort Worth Zoo now has two babies on its hands.
Weighing in nearly 100 pounds lighter than his aunt, Belle, Bowie (said boo-ee) came bouncing into the world Aug. 5 at 37.5-inches tall and about 230 pounds.
Bowie was named after Jim Bowie, a legendary figure of the American frontier, who fought valiantly in the Texas Revolution and died at the Alamo.
He is the third calf born at the Fort Worth Zoo, and the first for his mother, 14-year-old Bluebonnet. Genetic testing is being done to determine the calf’s paternity.
Bluebonnet was the first elephant born at the Fort Worth Zoo, and her mother, Rasha, delivered Belle, Bluebonnet’s full sister. Bowie’s birth makes Rasha a grandmother and Belle an aunt, giving the zoo three generations of Asian elephants.
According to a press release from the zoo, Asian elephants were listed as endangered in 1976, and they are threatened by drastic habitat alteration. "The species' ability to reproduce in the wild to offset mortality rates has been questioned as well, due to poaching of male elephants for their ivory tusks. In zoos across North America, reproduction rates are a huge concern, as Asian elephant birth rates are not keeping pace with elephant mortality," wrote Katie Giangreco, the Fort Worth Zoo's public relations assistant manager.
The press release goes on to point out that the Fort Worth Zoo has become an international leader in elephant conservation since establishing its breeding program in 1986.
"With the elephant population facing so many risks, it is of great importance for zoos to breed Asian elephants for the future conservation of the species. Fort Worth Zoo staff was ecstatic in 1998 after the arrival of Bluebonnet. With a third successful birth, the Zoo continues to establish itself as a leader in elephant breeding and conservation," Giangreco wrote.
Those interested in seeing new baby Bowie may be able to during various times of the day. Spending time with his mother right now is vital to a successful rearing, so his visibility will be dictated by his activity level.