Baby Elephants at the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo

In January, the Omaha zoo welcomed not 1 but 2 baby Elephants to their family herd! I’ll be reviewing our first visit since the momentous occasion as well as sharing 360° pictures and videos.

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Going back about a decade, the country of Swaziland, now known as eSwatini, in Africa was experiencing extreme drought conditions. Some groups in the US, including the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Association of Zoos and Aquariums were concerned this would lead to the death of many elephants, so a plan was put in place to rescue some of the elephants and bring them to the United States.

Conservationists on the ground in Swaziland believed the efforts were going too far and tried to stop the plan. You can read more here and here. However, food scarcity and malnutrition fears caused the zoo’s to act quickly and quietly to move the elephants sooner than expected, which was seen as an extremely controversial move.

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Omaha, Dallas and Wichita zoo’s were selected to host 6 elephants each, 5 female and 1 male. So, the zoo’s got to work to build their elephant family quarters. Along with saving the elephants from the drought, each zoo created a plan to expand the herd.

In early 2020, the Omaha zoo announced that two of their female elephants were pregnant! These large creatures have a 22 month gestational period, which makes it difficult to increase the numbers in the wild. Also, elephants in captivity have low birth rates, so either way, growing a herd is a difficult endeavor.

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However, both female elephants gave birth to healthy babies, Eugenia born 1/7/2022 and Sonny born 1/30/2022 and it was recently announced one more elephant is pregnant and due sometime next year! It’s amazing to see half the elephants rescued have contributed to the conservation of the herd.

Rules for visiting the elephants
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After the births, the zoo closed the Elephant Family Quarters building to allow the babies time to grow and bond with the females of the herd, while also slowly being introduced to their father. They also announced a timed ticket entry system for when they reopened the building. The Timed Entry Tickets began on 2/14. We decided to hold off awhile before visiting, but finally had a chance to go on 4/10. When I searched for the timed tickets, I was excited to see they were no longer required!

We arrived at the zoo a couple hours after opening and visited a few other exhibits before heading to the Elephant Family Quarters, so when we arrived at the building, we found a divided sidewalk to help with traffic flow in and out of the building. Also, a zoo employee is standing outside the entrance keeping track of guests as they enter and exit. As you can see in the 360° picture above, there wasn’t a line when we arrived and we’re allowed to go inside immediately.

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Upon entry, we see some risers to allow the overflow crowd the ability to stand on and see over the crowd up front. Upon initial scan, I see about 4 adult elephants and no babies. However, one of the adults moved and we spotted a baby behind her.

We got to experience the baby running around, keeping up with the momma elephant as they moved around the quarters. The baby is so cute!

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Here’s a 360° video that shows us entering the building, spending 5 to 10 minutes watching the elephants, and tour past the outdoor areas for the elephants. It looked like work was being done in that area, so they were keeping all the elephants inside. Typically, their door is open and they can move in and out as they desire.

If you like this video, please visit my YouTube channel, click Like the video and Subscribe to the channel! Note: If the video is playing in low quality, hit the settings button (gear ⚙️), click Quality, select Advanced and choose a better quality. If you have limited data on your cell phone plan, try viewing via a WiFi network.

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Comment below if you love seeing the Baby Elephants! We’re hoping to make several visits this year, so will have more to share as they grow.

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