The due date for a very big baby is here, and Oregon Zoo staff are preparing for the delivery of an addition to their elephant family any day now.
Rose Tu has been pregnant for 21 months now. Her expected due date was in November or December.
The zoo's senior veterinarian, Mitch Finnegan, is on call and ready for anything.
Rose Tu gave birth to Samudra in August 2008. Samudra weighed in at more than 280 pounds, and it was a difficult birth for Rose Tu.
The elephant had never experienced a birth before and became confused and agitated after the delivery, according to zoo workers.
Dr. Finnegan and the rest of the zoo's elephant-care team say they are expecting the best this time around but preparing for the worst, just in case.
Emergency medical supplies have been assembled at the elephant barn, including medications in case labor needs to be induced and oxygen in case the newborn has any trouble breathing.
"Ideally, we'll leave her alone and only have people in the barn that she's really comfortable with," Finnegan said. "As much as possible, we want it to be just another day for her. Animals are very good at sensing our emotions and stress, so we want everyone to be upbeat and mellow."
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