Elephant Baby Dynamics & Docent Celebration

Remember this? If you watched our “Behind The Scenes With the New Babies” about a month ago, this is when Zuri, little hellion that she is, charged our intrepid photographer, Eric Hinnebusch. Eric said,”whoa,” but stood his ground, and she failed to knock him down. I remember Victoria did the same to me, years ago, when she was almost the same weight and age. She knocked me back on one leg, but I was still standing.


And Zuri is certainly holding her ground against her larger, and only weeks older, half-sister. Since we taped our segment about a month ago,  Angelina has gained about 100 pounds, and weights 450, and Zuri has also gained about 100, and weighs in at 350 pounds. Elephant Manager Willie Theison says Zuri continues to be all energy, asserting herself constantly, while Angelina is much more passive.

Zuri,being the smallest of all the elephants in the herd, is making her presence felt ( with us, here–a photo taken by Kerri McMullen, a professional photographer). She pushes Angelina right to the limit, then Angelina pushes back.  And Willie says Victoria is becoming the mentor, big sister he hoped she would be. Sometimes Zuri will be screaming, and Victoria will just go over and touch her with her trunk to calm her. The two babies often play underneath Victoria, and if Angelina fights back too hard, Vic just gives her a little shove away. Actually, Victoria was born 9 years ago this month, and Callee was born in September a year later. So there was  a big birthday bash at the Zoo this Sunday.  And, for a small donation, folks could have a picture taken with either Callee or Victoria. It was so funny to see who was intimidated by their size, and who wasn’t. This little girl from Sewickley, Makayla Sallese, was cool as a cucumber.  Even when Victoria took her hand with her trunk. 

And  a lot of the docents were on hand for the birthday party, of course, helping out with cookies, face-painting, and information.

 This photo was taken at the Zoo’s “thank you ” party for the docents who participated in the Elephant Baby Watch. And with Moja, that went on for weeks and weeks. I participated in one of them, but no baby on my shift. Many of docents were on watches for the births of Callee and Victoria, and all of them feel a special connection to the process and the herd. They are a dedicated group of individuals, who train for weeks to be certified, and their knowledge about the animals never ceases to amaze me. By the way, they have a new cookbook coming out that you will be able to buy at the gift shop. I think it helps fund their program.

And this elephant-like pyramid is composed of staff members who helped in the baby process, and entertained the docents that evening. Of course Willie, and on the foundation with him, Mammal Curator Amos Morris, and on the left end, keeper, Brian McCampbell, and on the right side, keeper, Joe Galvanek.

Above them, from left to right, keeper, Stacy Mcdonough; vet techs, Pam Peabody and Libby Galvanek; and keeper,Kyle Wojcik. Zoo Photographer, Paul Selvaggio, who took those wonderful birth pictures, snapped these. Zoo Director Barbara Baker was not there for the photo shoot, but she, and her communications staff, Connie George and Tracy Gray, put in hundreds of hours for the babies. 

One last photo, taken by Kerri. This is The Matriarch, Tash. She is my favorite, and sometimes, she even listens to me. Only when she is not focused on Willie, of course. How lucky we all are to have these wondrous creatures in our world. 


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