It’s a boy this time at the Fort Worth Zoo. Bowie (boo-ee), a healthy, 37.5-inch-tall, nearly 230-pound male Asian elephant calf, was born at 7:25 a.m. on Aug. 5, arriving 30 days after the birth of a female calf, Belle, in July.
Named after legendary Alamo hero James Bowie, Bowie is the third elephant calf to be born at the Fort Worth Zoo. Bluebonnet, the zoo’s 14-year-old Asian elephant, gave birth to Bowie, her first calf, after a nearly 22-month gestation. Bluebonnet was the first elephant born at the zoo. Her mother, Rasha, delivered Belle, Bluebonnet’s full sister, in July. Bowie’s arrival makes Rasha a grandmother and Belle an aunt – there are now three generations of elephants at the Fort Worth Zoo, which mimics how herds are established in the wild.
“What a wonderful surprise to welcome yet another baby elephant to this world here in Fort Worth,” said Mayor Betsy Price. “This newest addition to our world-class zoo will bring excitement and joy to so many people – visitors and citizens alike. Thanks to the Fort Worth Zoo’s remarkable facilities and staff, I know this baby elephant is in very capable hands. We can’t wait to share him with the rest of the world.” In total, the Fort Worth Zoo is home to seven Asian elephants – four females and three males. Since establishing its elephant breeding program in 1986, the zoo has become an international leader in elephant conservation. Zoo Executive Director Michael Fouraker served as president of the International Elephant Foundation (IEF) for nine years and currently serves on the organization’s board of directors and as president-elect of the board.
“We hope the interest generated from the births of these two wonderful elephants will inspire people to develop an appreciation for elephants and conservation,” said Charles Gray, IEF board president. “Watching these baby elephants as they grow will encourage people to consider how they might get involved supporting efforts to conserve Asian elephants in range countries.” Listed as endangered since 1976, the Asian elephant is threatened by drastic habitat alteration. The species’ ability to reproduce in the wild to offset mortality rates has been questioned due to poaching of male elephants for their ivory tusks. In zoos across North America, reproduction rates are a concern, as Asian elephant birth rates are not keeping pace with elephant mortality. Jim Maddy, president and CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, said elephants in human care contribute to vital research in health, welfare, reproduction and behavior, which directly benefits their wild counterparts.
“The birth of two Asian elephants at the Fort Worth Zoo is an important, positive step forward to ensure the survival of this endangered species,” Maddy said. The Fort Worth Zoo has been ranked the No. 5 zoo in the nation by USA Travel Guide and the No. 1 attraction in the Dallas-Fort Worth area by Zagat survey.