Photo by Cassie Guerra

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A baby elephant delivered with the help of Cornell veterinarians made its debut at a Syracuse zoo today.

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The Asian elephant was born after a 642-day gestation period, weighing 281 pounds and standing 36.1 inches tall, according to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo.

The baby elephant will be named through a public contest, and the zoo is soliciting different possible names. (More on the contest below.)

“This Asian elephant birth is significant to long-term survival of the species and is one of just a few third-generation Asian elephant calves born in North America. With three generations in our herd, it replicates the typical makeup of a family group in the wild,” said Zoo Director Ted Fox in a statement.

The role of Cornell’s zoological veterinarians in the birth was mentioned in a Facebook post by the vet school on Tuesday. Syracuse.com recently reported that a Cornell “theriogenologist (an expert in reproductive medicine)” was on call for the birth of the baby elephant.

Photo by Cassie Guerra

A statement adds that the Rosamond Gifford Zoo is home to a herd of six adult Asian elephants.

“The group includes the calf’s parents, Mali and Doc, in addition to females Targa, Kirina (expecting a calf later this summer), Romani and Siri. Asian elephants are intelligent and extremely social animals. They are also highly endangered: there are fewer in the wild (~35,000) than there are seats in the Carrier Dome (49,250),” the statement adds.

More information on the naming contest, courtesy of a news release from the zoo:

Members of the community are invited to enter the zoo’s online contest to help select the name of the male elephant. The contest begins today.

Given the native habitat of Asian elephants, names related to the culture and heritage of India, Myanmar, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Thailand are preferred and strongly encouraged. Contest entrants should also include a brief explanation of why they suggested the name.

Guidelines:    

  • Name suggestions will be taken for 5 days, May 26-30, on the contest page: rosamondgiffordzoo.org/naming-contest.
  • All entries must be received by 4 p.m. on May 30.
  • The contest is open to ages 5 and older, with a limit of 1 submission per person.
  • Classrooms, scout troops and other community groups are encouraged to enter.
  • A committee at the zoo will select the top 5 names from those suggested.
  • Top names will be posted on the contest page for voting for 5 days, June 8-12.
  • Voting closes at 4 p.m. on June 12.
  • The name that receives the highest number of votes will be selected as the winner.
  • The winning name will be announced via a media alert and on the zoo’s website and social media platforms on June 16.
  • The winner will receive an Asian elephant Adopt an Animal package courtesy of Friends of the Zoo.

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.