Elephant calf arrives month early at Pittsburgh Zoo's conservation center

PITTSBURGH — It was an early arrival for the newest baby at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

Seeni, one of the elephants at the zoo’s International Conservation Center in Somerset County, delivered a female calf one month early.

The calf was born May 31. She weighed 184 pounds and was 32 inches at her shoulder.

“To say that we were shocked when we walked into the barn that morning is understatement,” said Willie Theison, elephant manager at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium and International Conservation Center.


According to a news release, Seeni was not producing milk, so zoo keepers began to bottle feed the calf. Seeni also didn’t begin to care for the calf, so the decision was made to bring her to the Pittsburgh Zoo in Highland Park, where she will eventually be introduced to the herd, the release said.

“Our first priority is to make sure the calf remains healthy,” said Dr. Baker. “We will continue to bottle feed her for as long as necessary.  We are also watching her closely for any signs of infection so we can react quickly.  She is tough, but she is facing a long road ahead.”

The calf is the fifth born at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. All of the calves were fathered by Jackson, the zoo’s bull.

The calf will not be on exhibit or available for viewing for several months.

Elephant Calf info (Source: Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium):

Birth weight: 184 pounds - Average birth weight: 220 to 270 pounds

Height: 32 inches at the shoulder - Average: 36 inches

  • Calves can drink up to three gallons of milk a day.
  • In the first six months, elephant calves learn to walk steadily, control their trunks and flare their ears.
  • Young calves will sometimes suck on the tips of their trunks like a human baby sucks its thumb.
  • Mothers, aunts and sisters all help to care for the young calf in the herd.
  • At about six months of age, the calf learns to use its trunk to eat and drink.