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October 24, 2019

Saint Louis Zoo Announces a Pregnant Elephant

The Saint Louis Zoo is excited to announce that Asian elephant Rani (pronounced “Ronnie”) is pregnant and due to give birth in summer 2020. Rani, 23, is the mother of Jade, 12.

The Zoo’s bull elephant, 26-year-old Raja, is the father. He was the first Asian elephant ever born at the Zoo in 1992, and this calf will be his fifth offspring.

“We’re looking forward to the new calf joining our multi-generational elephant family, and we’re optimistic that everything will go well for Rani,” said Katie Pilgram-Kloppe, Acting Curator of River’s Edge at the Saint Louis Zoo, and Assistant Director, Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Asian Elephant Conservation. “Breeding and calf rearing is one part of our robust, multi-faceted animal welfare program, and important to the elephants’ social structure. Our experienced, professional elephant care team is providing exceptional care for Rani during her pregnancy, including customized exercise and birth plans.”

An elephant pregnancy lasts about 22 months and a newborn weighs about 250-350 pounds. Rani receives regular prenatal health checkups by the Zoo’s elephant care team. At this point, the sex of the calf is unknown.

Rani is part of a nine-member, three-generation elephant family that includes Ellie (mother), Maliha, Jade (daughter), Priya, Donna, Sri, Pearl and Raja at the Zoo’s River’s Edge and Elephant Woods habitats. Rani and Ellie arrived at the Saint Louis Zoo in 2001 from the Jacksonville Zoo, where Rani was born in 1996.

For updates on Rani’s pregnancy and other information on the Zoo’s elephant family, visit

Species Survival Plan

This elephant breeding was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Asian Elephant Species Survival Plan, a national cooperative breeding and management program responsible for maintaining a genetically healthy population of Asian elephants in North American zoos.

Asian Elephant Conservation

There are fewer than 35,000 Asian elephants left in the wild, and they are facing extinction due to poaching for ivory and habitat destruction. Given the shrinking population of Asian elephants, the Saint Louis Zoo is committed to conserve this endangered species. The Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Asian Elephant Conservation supports the welfare and conservation of Asian elephants in Sumatra and other countries in Asia through the International Elephant Foundation. The Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Conservation in the Horn of Africa also supports conservation of African elephants in Kenya through the Northern Rangelands Trust.

“Elephants in the wild face a growing number of threats, and elephants in zoos provide a genetic safety net should wild populations continue to decline,” said Pilgram-Kloppe.

Leaders in EEHV Detection and Testing

The Saint Louis Zoo has been a leader in pursuing the latest elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) detection and testing protocols. EEHV is a recent discovery, identified in 1995 by researchers at Smithsonian National Zoo. Since its discovery, the virus has been identified in both African and Asian elephants in U.S., Europe and in Asia.

Rani’s second daughter Kenzi died at age 6 in 2018 of EEHV, a viral infection shown to be fatal to wild elephants and elephants in human care.

Zoo veterinarians and curators routinely confer with EEHV experts across the country. For several years, the Zoo has joined other North American elephant care facilities in actively supporting EEHV research efforts.

Saint Louis Zoo 314/781-0900
Billy Brennan, 314/646-4633,
Christy Childs, 314/646-4639,
Mike De Pope, 314/646-4703,