Back To See The Babies At The Fort Worth Zoo

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Yesterday (Sunday, 10.13.2013) I wanted to go to the zoo and noticed that my zoo membership card was missing. I searched all over and couldn’t find it. They gave me a day pass just in case I found the card. I went with my husband Tom, and got him a membership too.

We got to the elephants, they were all out again. Belle is a very active little girl and she seems to love to play.  She runs and pushes little Bowie, they butt heads together and act like little kids. Bowie is a little bit quieter than Belle and he likes to stay close to his mom and Angel. When he was first born, they kept him in the elephant stables to bond with his mom, Bluebonnet, and also with Angel, while Rasha and Belle came outside to be with the public.  Rasha was more used to being a mom, so she knew what to do.  Bowie’s first few days out were a bit strange to him and he was very vocal and very loud!  Now, he is quiet and just goes about his things that he does.

Angel seemed a bit bothered by Belle today,  she knocked her down and Belle screamed very loud. It was a little disconcerting to see this.  Angel also started nudging Bowie with her trunk as if she was reprimanding him for something, but he didn’t seem to be doing anything wrong. Bowie seems so sweet… He seems to be a little snuggler.

10.14.2013

I was a little bothered by Angel so I had to go back again today, maybe just to make sure that everything was ok with them.  It was raining today and I thought that I would also like to get some photos of the babies in the mud.  It doesn’t rain here much in Fort Worth, so it’s not as if they get to play in the mud very often.

The elephants and the zoo keepers made a cute entrance today…. They all lined up… Bluebonnet (14 yrs old), Bowie, Rasha (40 years old), Belle and Angel (24 years old). The three adults all looked at us and raised their trunks to say hello….. The babies just did what little ones do, hanging around the adults… Then they all went about their business…. Eating bamboo. The babies are also learning to eat the bamboo, Belle is getting pretty good at it now.

I’m happy to say that Angel seemed so much better today.   I was talking to the elephant supervisor today, Peter, for the first time. Normally he has been behind the fence keeping watch to make sure that all was ok with the babies and the adults.   I asked him about Angel and he said that sometimes Belle gets a little too rambunctious and Angel (or the other adults) need to reprimand her (and/or Bowie) I guess it’s the same as people, but the zoo keepers do watch to make sure that nobody is hurt and the elephants themselves are careful not to hurt the babies.

They now know, after genetic testing, who Bowie’s father is, it’s Samson from the Albuquerque Zoo.  They artificially inseminated Bluebonnet with samples from Casey, Colonel (both currently at the Fort Worth Zoo) and Samson… Samson is the daddy.

They are trying to get Angel used to babies because she will be the next one to be bred, and they are hoping that it will be with Colonel.   Peter said that Angel is not pregnant yet… although I said “even if she were, you wouldn’t tell me”… he laughed.    It seems that they try to keep the pregnancies quiet until the baby is born and they are sure that all is well.  I asked if elephants look pregnant and he said that Rasha did show with her pregnancy (she’s smaller than Bluebonnet, who is also her daughter), and Peter said that she went into labor around 1:30am and then had Belle about 3 hrs later.  The gestation for elephants is about 22 months.   Bluebonnet didn’t show much for anyone other than experts to notice.  She went into labor about 6 wks early which is why Bowie was so small.  He was not premature, he was safe, just an early baby and a lower birth weight because of that.   After the babies are born, the Vet checks them thoroughly and then gives the babies back to the mom so they begin their bonding and nursing process.

They kept Bowie and Bluebonnet inside for a few weeks longer than normal, both to bond (Bluebonnet was a first time mom) and also because it was so hot outside.  Now that it’s cooler, the elephants can stay out somewhat longer.  They kept Angel inside with Bluebonnet and Bowie, to help out and also so they could all bond together.

They will bring them outside in the rain, and when they go back in, they wash the mud off of them, and oh… were they muddy from the rain today!  If there is any threat of severe weather, they will all go back into their stables.     They have separate stables for each little family…  Rasha and Belle, Bluebonnet and Bowie and then Angel.   The male elephants also have their own separate stables and are separated from the females, especially now while there are young ones.   Today I noticed that Bluebonnet and Angel were reaching way up with their trunks and eating from the trees.  Peter said that they only keep trees there that are safe for the elephants to eat.  They also put limbs and branches that fall off trees and bushes in storms into the pen so that the elephants can eat them.   Yesterday it was bamboo day.

In the beginning, the zoo keepers would stay behind the fence just in case there were any problems, now they are able to come out and talk, but they always have someone close by.

Bowie’s ears flap over at the very top, while Belle’s ears have a longer flap from the top, down along the edge of her ear.  Bowie is smaller (only 330 lbs as of today) and his back is more rounded, he also walks with his head lowered and he has the cutest little look… he always seems to be looking up with his eyes but his head and trunk down… Belle is heavier (I think that the elephant supervisor said 570 lbs… or something very close to that) and much more filled out.   Bowie is a bit more subdued than Belle, but he’s also a month younger.  Belle is a little instigator and she will push and nudge Bowie and sometimes the adults.    She runs a lot and sometimes Bowie will run with her, other times he stays close to his mom and also the other adults.  They are both still very fuzzy and from what I understand, that fuzzy fur is very prickly, although I haven’t been close enough to touch it.  It’s hard to imagine that Belle, and even Bowie weigh so much… next to the adults, they look so small.

There is a bronze statue and plaque honoring the birth of Bluebonnet.  She was the first Asian Elephant to be born at the Fort Worth Zoo back in 1998,

I didn’t visit too many other animals, the hippos and the giraffes are close to the elephants, so I did see them.   I didn’t get to see Sasha today (the baby Jaguar) because I was running late, so maybe next time.  I did see her last week on 10.7.2013, she stays hidden and sleeps… just like cats do.    Here is a photo of her, she was a bit hard to photograph since she was pretty well hidden, but she is just so cute!

Sasha - the baby Jaguar

Laura