Press conference called to assure public new arrival will remain in Portland

by: COURTESY OF THE OREGON ZOO: MICHAEL DURHAM - A one day old Asian elephant calf in the elephant maternity ward with her mother Rose-Tu at the Oregon Zoo.Oregon Zoo officials insist the baby elephant born last week will live her entire life in their care.

"She lives at the Oregon Zoo, she was never going to leave the zoo, the calf is here to say," Oregon Zoo Executive Director Kim Smith said at a hastily called press conference Tuesday morning.

Smith, flanked by Deputy Director Chris Pefferkorn and Elephant Curator Bob Lee, spoke after the Seattle Times reported that the baby will be owned by Have Trunk Will Travel Inc. of Perris, Calif., after she turns 30 days old. The private company owns Tusko, the baby's father.

Although the contract had been reported locally before, the Seattle Times story was picked up by the Portland media. Have Trunk Will Travel rents elephants for events, TV and movie productions and commercial ventures. Some of the movies that have used Have Trunk Will Travel elephants include "Water for Elephants," "Zoo Keeper," "Jungle Book" and "Larger Than Life."

Smith told reporters that the contract with Have Trunk Will Travel is a standard animal breeding pact used by zoos across the nation. She said many animals at the Oregon Zoo are owned by other parties but live their lives here.

"Ownership and where they live are two different things. The baby elephant lives at the zoo," Smith said.

But Smith also said the zoo has begun negotiations with Have Trunk Will Travel to obtain ownership of the baby. Smith said it was too early to know if money would be exchanged.

The baby elephant was born to Rose-Tu early in the morning Friday, Nov. 30. The zoo is asking people to vote on a name for the calf. See the related story:Lily? Jaidee? Zoo wants your help to name new baby elephant

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