Monday, August 4, 2014

Waiting, Hoping, and Wishing

Still no baby! 
Twenty four hour watch has been going for close to a month but still no signs that we are any closer to having the new member of the elephant herd joining us. Semba appears quite content and she continues her normal activities, and her appetite has not slowed down. 

Litsemba, Semba's full name, is swahili meaning "hope". Semba is approximately 24 years old. She, along with Mabu and Lungile were born at Kruger National Park in South Africa. From there many of the elephants in the park were moved to Swaziland in 1994. The elephant populations started to become overpopulated in the area. Because of this two family herds were moved San Diego Safari Park in 2003. Breeding within these herds was very successful at San Diego. That is where Semba had her first and second calves Punga and Sundzu. Both were fathered by Mabu. Due to the success of the herds at San Diego, it was decided that they needed to be expanded and in March of 2012, a small breeding herd of five elephants was moved to Reid Park Zoo. Semba is the matriarch of the herd. In elephant social dynamics, one female will lead the family herd. Most males once they reach sexual maturity will go off on their own, sometimes joining a separate bachelor herd. 

Mabu and Semba were observed breeding in October of 2012. It was quite the display of the entire herd running and trumpeting through out the exhibit over multiple days. Mabu also mated with Lungile but it didn't result in a pregnancy. The news of Semba's pregnancy was a delight to the zoo and community. This was exciting for everyone because this will be the first elephant born in the state of Arizona!

Now we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the baby (sex unknown). Semba is still within the healthy window for delivery. Urine analysis predicted between July 16th and August 21st. At this point this pregnancy has surpassed Semba's previous two due dates with Punga and Sundzu and has also gone pass the mean delivery date. Everyone is on edge waiting for some sign that labor is coming. Matt and I are especially anxious because our internship and time at the zoo is coming to a close. We leave soon and we want more than anything to get to see this baby born. So keep fingers crossed that this bundle of joy comes soon!

*Photo taken from Reid Park Zoo's Facebook page*

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