Baby Elephant Birthwatch!

We’ve been eagerly awaiting the birth of an Asian elephant at the Zoo for many months now – Shanti, one of our resident elephants, is pregnant and expected to give birth soon. As part of the preparation process, we have trained a dedicated team of more than 75 volunteers to participate in an overnight Elephant Birth Watch program to help ensure the safety of Shanti and her calf.

Shanti and her previous calf, Baylor. She sure is "showing!"
Shanti and her previous calf, Baylor. She sure is “showing!”

Shanti is 23 years old, and she is mom to Baylor, who is now 3 years old. She is the tallest female elephant in the herd, and she can be identified right now by also being the widest…calves can weigh 250-300 pounds at birth, so it’s quite understandable!

Birth Watch volunteers and Elephant keeper staff watch Shanti via closed circuit cameras 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The volunteer commitment is a weekly 4-hour shift, and everyone involved goes through an extensive training to be sure they know Shanti’s normal behaviors and can detect signs of labor. If Shanti is thought to be going into labor or not acting normally, the volunteers call the Elephant staff right away.

At first, volunteers stay overnight and watch the cameras between 4 p.m. and 7:30 a.m., and Elephant staff took the daytime shifts. Because we are nearing Shanti’s expected due date, Elephant keepers now sleep in the barn overnight just in case labor starts so they can react quickly, and the volunteers monitor the cameras.

The barn in the McNair Asian Elephant Habitat where Shanti and the rest of the herd sleeps - it's also where birth watch takes place!
The barn in the McNair Asian Elephant Habitat where Shanti and the rest of the herd sleeps and birth watch takes place!

Shanti also has quite a bit to do in preparation for birth. She takes daily walks to be sure that she keeps up her exercise and doesn’t gain too much weight, and her progesterone levels are monitored daily at this point to see if there is a drop. When the level drops to near zero, it’s a pretty good predictor that labor will be happening between 2 and 15 days from that point.

Signs of labor that the volunteers are trained to detect include lifting of the tail, swatting with the tail, straining, restlessness, squatting, and increased vocalizations. The most obvious sign is if her water were to break, and at that point, the animal staff goes into action.

Stay tuned to the Houston Zoo blog for updates – the next one you likely will see is a baby calf announcement!



3 thoughts on “Baby Elephant Birthwatch!

Comments are closed.

Want more?

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Status Update

Meet your favorite superheroes in person at the Zoo! Spider-Man and Iron Man will make special appearances to greet guests and pose for photos on September 12 & 13 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. ... See MoreSee Less

20 hours ago

View on Facebook

Amber Hamlin Davis, Vilma Yanes Deras and 23 others like this

View previous comments

Grace JosephWow! Two of my favorite things on Earth in one location: Spider-Man and bears!

19 hours ago
Avatar

Jessica GarzaAlann Limon you could take a picture with Spider-Man. :) 😘 💛

20 hours ago   ·  1

1 Reply

Avatar

Mayra EspinozaYayy, we are going to see them.

16 hours ago   ·  2
Avatar

Caysie HaslundWell I think we gotta go to the zoo Sunday lol

15 hours ago   ·  1
Avatar

Shawn HelmenThis sounds like an event that Ephraim would love. Not to sure of Abram. But i too would love this. May just have to do this.........Dawn Helmen and Victor Helmen

14 hours ago   ·  1

2 Replies

Avatar

Ghina Ghaith KhansaKim so

17 hours ago
Avatar

Chastity Lee Ann AltmanHis birthday?

19 hours ago
Avatar

Susi FloresJiji te acuerdaas yura

18 hours ago
Avatar

Tiffany LaFleurMaybe we do this on the 13th... James

27 minutes ago
Avatar

Darlene DeGraffenreidKaren

18 hours ago
Avatar

Erin Stripling's Kindergarten ClassRobert Stripling - New characters and the boys loved it last year! What do ya think?

20 hours ago
Avatar

Melissa AnnJayme Cherie for some reason I picture you showing up in Deadpool, just for kicks.

2 hours ago   ·  1
Avatar

Amber WatrouseShawn take the bubbas!

20 hours ago
Avatar

Vanessa JenniferBobby Clay can we go that Sunday?!?!?!

18 hours ago
Avatar

Yuridia YepizSusi Flores vamos otra cuantas horad

20 hours ago
Avatar

Sophia Scott RollsGeoffrey Hill i bet the boys would love this

15 hours ago
Avatar

Nicole EspinozaTara Cid for bby adam!

15 hours ago
Avatar

Mandi Morrison DorrellLisa Wright Morrison you need to take my baby boy!!!

20 hours ago
Avatar

Holly SalazarShannon Peña-Treviño, this made me think of yall!!! :)

20 hours ago   ·  1

2 Replies

Avatar

Felicia MarquezCrystal Marquez we have to go&"take Mya

20 hours ago

2 Replies

Avatar

Vanessa JenniferBobby can we go that Sunday?!?!

18 hours ago
Avatar

Robin PonceFernando Spiderman!

18 hours ago
Avatar

Nisse Perkins McGeeMelanie Schwemer, what do you think?

14 hours ago   ·  1
Avatar

Maria EstradaLawrence EstradaJr we should take juju

14 hours ago
Avatar

Christina ChengKelly Cheng & Sophal Cheng next sunday!!!

18 hours ago   ·  1
Avatar

Comment on Facebook

Houston Zoo shared Wildlife Conservation Network's photo. ... See MoreSee Less

Our friends at the Houston Zoo are vital to the mission of WCN and its partners. Besides educating the public with animal ambassadors about their wild counterparts, they provide our conservationists with support, training, networking opportunities, and research & development of technology that will save species. For more information about all the great things that the Houston Zoo does for field conservation, check out our blog! wildnet.org/updates/houston-zoo-provides-support-conservationists-across-globe

1 day ago

View on Facebook

Robert Evans, Jessica Coreas and 23 others like this

View previous comments

Casey McaninchThat's amazing love the zoo

24 hours ago
Avatar

Comment on Facebook

Animals In Action

Recent Videos