The saga of Swaziland’s elephants has turned from heartbreak to happiness for the Dallas Zoo.
Five months after one of the elephants pledged to Dallas died in Swaziland before it could make the trip, a Dallas elephant has given birth to an improbable baby.
Mlilo, one of five elephants sent to the Dallas Zoo in a 17-elephant import that sent six each to Omaha and Wichita in March, gave birth to a baby boy May 14, the zoo announced Tuesday.
Dallas, too, was supposed to have received six elephants in the import, but a gastrointestinal condition felled the one that died in December. Now the zoo is up to six Swazi elephants, thanks to the maternity that defies odds: All breeding-age male elephants in Swaziland were given vasectomies several years ago. Yet here he is, a newborn calf.
“The chances of a pregnancy were extremely low,” said Gregg Hudson, president and CEO of the Dallas Zoo, in a Q&A on the zoo’s website.
Hudson said the zoos thought Mlilo, 14, might have been pregnant before the import took place, but hormone tests were inconclusive.
Sorry, Omaha, but the zoos don’t think any other elephants are pregnant.
“Elephants have a 22-month gestation, so it is possible, but not something we’re anticipating,” Hudson said.
The zoos don’t know who fathered the baby boy. At 10 days old, he stands about 3 feet tall and weighs 175 pounds, which is small. Most calves his age weigh 150 to 300 pounds.