PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In a surprise, Chendra is pregnant for the first time.
Chendra, a 26-year-old Asian elephant at the Oregon Zoo, is older than most elephant moms. The surprise came because zoo officials said they hadn’t seen her engaging in breeding behavior until recently.
It’s also unclear who the father is. It could be Samson. It could be Samudra. Either way, the elephant was conceived sometime in January but won’t be born until late 2020.
“It’s a great surprise,” said senior elephant keeper Bob Lee. “She had the opportunity years ago but Chendra did not participate so this is the first time and we couldn’t be more excited.”
Since 1962, a total of 25 elephants have been born at the Oregon Zoo.
“We knew we were coming to the end of the window (with Chendra),” Lee said. “It’s like a woman giving birth in her 40s. We are working with her to stay fit and healthy for the birth.”
Chendra came to Oregon in 1999. She was found as a young calf wandering alone near a palm oil plantation in Borneo.
Zoo officials are concerned she may have tuberculosis and are awaiting the results of a blood test. She will be isolated from the rest of the herd until the results are returned in about 6 weeks.
“We don’t believe it would be transmitted to the baby,” said senior elephant keeper Bob Lee. “We are gathering information from experts around the country, still collecting information.”
The Oregon Zoo has treated other elephants for TB — Packy, Rama, Tusko, Sung-Surin (also known as Shine). All but Shine eventually died, though Rama and Tusko were euthanized due to leg injuries in 2015. Packy died in 2017.