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Reid Park's baby elephant settling into habitat as keepers get set to introduce her to the public

Posted at 4:46 PM, Mar 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-12 20:19:15-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The elephant herd at the Reid Park Zoo added a brand new baby to their group, last Friday.

Semba gave birth to a 265-pound calf at 3:31 a.m. Friday morning.

By Tuesday, the calf had been introduced to parts of the habitat with the rest of the herd.

But caretakers are keeping the calf from the main part of the habitat that is available to be viewed by the public while they baby proof it and wait for the mother and calf to bond.

“We're currently working on making sure it is as baby proofed as we can make it and to be safe on this side. And part of that is draining the pool,” said Mara Eisenbarth, an elephant caretaker at Reid Park.

But the burning question on everyone's mind:

Is the calf a boy or girl?

“We're just waiting for the right opportunity and the right amount of people to say, "Yeah, I think that's what it is," We have a hunch. It's a female,” said Eisenbarth.

According to the Zoo, baby elephants are notorious for being difficult to discover the gender.

While keepers wait for the pair to bond, they say that the other members of the herd, Lungile, Nandi and Penzi, have been more than accepting of the new calf.

“Nandi is being an incredible big sister, her role is definitely to be a protector of new baby, as well. Penzias learning how to do that as well. But she's not quite as confident as Nandi is yet in that role,” said Eisenbarth.

Eisenbarth says they hope to have the new calf introduced to the whole habitat in a few weeks.

Blake Phillips is a reporter for KGUN 9. Originally from St. Louis, Mo., Blake grew up in Sierra Vista. During his college tenure at the Missouri School of Journalism, Blake worked for the NBC affiliate KOMU-TV in Columbia. He is excited to return to a place he calls home and give back to the community in which he grew up. Share your story ideas and important issues with Blake by emailing