One of St. Louis' newest residents weighs more than 250 pounds, has big ears and a long trunk, and is utterly adorable.
Monday afternoon, Rani, a 23-year-old Asian elephant at the St. Louis Zoo, gave birth to a four-legged bundle of joy. The proud father is Raja, 27, who was himself the first elephant born at the zoo.
The baby elephant has not yet been named.
“Rani and baby are doing very well,” said Tim Thier in a statement. Thier is the zoo's curator of mammals/ungulates and River’s Edge, and director of the St. Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Asian Elephant Conservation.
The baby is Raja's fifth offspring and first son.
Mother and baby are bonding out of public view. A date when they can be seen by the public has not been set.
According to the zoo, fewer than 35,000 Asian elephants still exist in the wild. They face extinction because of poaching for ivory and the destruction of their habitat.
The zoo now boasts 10 Asian elephants.
Find updates on Rani, her calf and the rest of the zoo's elephants at stlzoo.org/elephants.