Pubic overwhelmingly favors new name

by: OREGON ZOO - Lily scampers near her mom in this new photo from the Oregon Zoo.Rose-Tu’s baby has a name: Lily.

The name of the new elephant at the Oregon Zoo was chosen by nearly 60 percent of the people who entered the naming contest. It received far more votes than the other four names offered by zoo officials.

“The outpouring of support for the zoo and its newest resident has been incredible,” Zoo Director Kim Smith said in a prepared statement announcing the name. “We received more than 50,000 votes on the zoo website, plus a ton of e-mails, calls and Facebook posts. This community is definitely inspired by Rose-Tu’s new calf.”

Elephant keepers submitted five names for a public vote last week. In addition to Lily, the others were: Jaidee (Thai for “good-hearted”); Sirikit (name for Thai royalty, literal meaning is “glorious”); Rakhi (Sanskrit for “love/bond between siblings”); Siddhi (Sanskrit for “perfection”; wife of Ganesha).

Of the 50,764 votes submitted through Sunday afternoon, Lily received 30,037. Jaidee was the runner-up, receiving close to 21 percent of the online votes, while Rakhi was a distant third with a little more than 7 percent. Siddhi received 6.5 percent and Siriki rounded out the ballot with around 6 percent.

Lily was born at 2:17 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 30. She weighed a hefty 300 pounds at birth and has been described by zoo animal-care staff as a “spitfire.” Most babies — human or elephant — lose a little weight just after birth, and at her last weigh-in Rose’s new calf tipped the scales at around 294.

According to Bob Lee, the zoo’s elephant curator, introductions to the calf’s herd-mates began the day after birth and continue to go well. Keepers say she is eating and sleeping well, and seems to have quite a personality.

“This calf’s definitely not shy,” Lee said in the prepared statement. “When she and Samudra first met, she rushed up to him to touch trunks. Mom had to hold her back a little. She also made a big impression on her auntie Shine. Shine makes this cool chirping vocalization when she’s excited. As soon as she saw the calf, there was a lot of chirping going on.”

Controversy swirled around the birth when the Seattle Time reported that a commercial California elephant ranch owns the baby. Tusko, her father, is owned by Have Trunk will Travel. The arrangement is spelled out in the breeding agreement signed between the zoo and the company.

After the initial press reports, both the zoo and the company assured the public that the baby would stay with her mother in Portland, however. Zoo and company officials said they were all committed to the zoo’s elephant breeding program.

The Oregon Zoo is recognized worldwide for its successful breeding program for Asian elephants, which has now spanned 50 years, zoo officials say. Rose-Tu’s mother, Me-Tu, was the second elephant born at the zoo — just months after Packy in 1962 — and her grandmother, Rosy, was the first elephant ever to live in Oregon.

Asian elephants are considered highly endangered in their range countries, threatened by habitat loss and conflict with humans. Perhaps fewer than 40,000 elephants remain in fragmented populations from India to Borneo.

The Oregon Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, whose species survival plan for Asian elephants is striving to establish a self-sustaining population in North America.

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