Deanne Stein, 405moms.com
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Visitors to the Oklahoma City Zoo won't find any elephants in the zoo's new elephant habitat. The facility's two pachyderms, Asha and Chandra, are being kept inside while the whole zoo community awaits the birth of a baby elephant.
A spokesperson says the zoo has a lot invested in Asha's delivery, so veterinarians are being very cautious and trying to ensure that everything goes well. The zoo has even called in a doctor from Integris Bennett Fertility Institute to help. Dr. David Kallenberger says Asha the elephant isn't his first zoo patient.
"I have experience working with the zoo with gorillas several years ago."
The zoo staff is drawing blood every day from Asha's ear, searching for signs she's ready to give birth.
"What we're looking for is a drop in that progesterone level," said Jennifer D'Agostino, Director of Veterinary Services. "Once it drops down to her baseline, we know she is probably going to give birth within about three to five days."
After Asha's blood is drawn, it's processed at the zoo's hospital lab then sent to Dr. Kallenberger for analysis. The staff is on stand-by 24 hours a day, ready to jump into action when Asha goes into labor. Zookeepers have prepared a 37-page birth plan which includes staff members camping outside the elephant barn.
The baby elephant is expected to weigh around 250 pounds.