The Oregon Zoo is expecting not one but two special deliveries — and both will require a flock of baby-carrying storks.
Eastern black rhinoceros Jozi and Asian elephant Rose-Tu are both pregnant, according to endocrinology experts at the zoo in Portland’s Washington Park. If successful, the pregnancies will result in big wins for both species.
🦏 Ready, set, rhino
First-time mom Jozi is expected to deliver her calf sometime between now and early January. Jozi and her companion King belong to the eastern subspecies of black rhinoceros — one of the most endangered species on the planet due to poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.
“In South Africa alone, we’re losing almost a rhino a day. Hopefully, their story can help inspire a new chapter in the conservation of this incredible species,” said Kelly Gomez, who oversees the zoo’s Africa area.
🐘 Expectant elephant
Over in Elephant Lands, 29-year-old Rose-Tu is pregnant with what would be her third calf after spending a lot of time with Samson, a 25-year-old male. Elephants have the longest gestation period of all mammals, with pregnancies lasting 18 to 22 months, and care staff think Rose-Tu could give birth in early 2025.
A healthy Asian elephant calf would also be a boon to its species, which is considered endangered. Just 40,000 to 50,000 wild individuals are left in fragmented populations in India and Borneo — areas that overlap with some of the largest human populations in the world.
🍼 Cautious optimism
Elephant pregnancies are lengthy and a healthy calf is never guaranteed, especially this early in Rose-Tu’s journey. Experts say the risk is even higher for pachyderms like Jozi that have never given birth before.
“We have an excellent animal-care team,” said Steve Lefave, who oversees the zoo elephant area. “They’ll be doing everything they can to help each of these moms have a successful birth.”