Houston, we now have our very own Babar. On Tuesday, the Houston Zoo welcomed the newest member of its elephant herd when 29-year-old Asian elephant Shanti gave birth to a male calf named Nelson.
And although we can’t guarantee this new Bayou City resident will be sporting green suits anytime soon, he’s already made an elephantine impression with his arrival. In addition to weighing 326 pounds at birth (yikes), Nelson needed immediate emergency surgery to repair a torn vessel in his umbilical cord and close a hole in his not-so tiny abdomen.
The 30-minute procedure was a success, and baby Nelson was soon back in his mama’s loving arms, err, trunk and walking on his own. While the adorable tike isn’t out of the woods quite yet, the team is “cautiously optimistic” he’ll be joining the 10 other elephants in the zoo’s herd soon—after all, he’s got to get bonding with his older brothers and sisters (Nelson is Shanti’s sixth calf).
“We are extremely proud of our dedicated, skilled and experienced elephant and veterinary teams who were thoroughly organized and ready to respond to whatever our new calf needed,” Lisa Marie Avendano, vice president of animal operations at the Houston Zoo, said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to watch Nelson and Shanti bond and introducing him to Houston.”
Speedy recovery, Nellie (or should we call you Nels)! We can’t wait to meet you.