Tucson’s Reid Park Zoo is expecting one big baby: Semba, the matriarch of Reid Park Zoo’s African elephant herd, is pregnant.
Semba came from the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park in 2012 for the opening of Expedition Tanzania, Reid Park Zoo’s seven-acre elephant habitat. She gave birth to Nandi, the first elephant born at Reid Park Zoo, in 2014. Her youngest calf, Penzi, recently turned three years old. Mabu, who left Reid Park Zoo in 2022, is the father to all of Semba’s calves.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how Penzi responds to her new role as a big sister,” said Cassie Dodds, Elephant Care Supervisor. “Nandi immediately took on a nurturing role when Penzi was born and this new arrival will give Penzi an opportunity to grow her skills caring for a younger calf.”
Elephant gestation is between 22 and 24 months, and Semba is a little over halfway through her pregnancy.
“Not only will this birth have a big impact on elephant conservation and strengthening the elephant species survival plan for the next generation, but it also strengthens Reid Park Zoo’s family herd structure — every member of the herd will have a role in raising this new baby,” Dodds said.
To care for Semba while she’s pregnant, the Animal Care Staff are watching Semba’s weight, her vitamin and mineral intake, and checking her blood work regularly.
This is the same care the entire herd receives regularly, but in Semba’s case, it also provides the animal care staff with the information they need to monitor Semba as she progresses through her pregnancy.
“Semba is a great mother, and it has been incredible to watch the bond between sisters Nandi and Penzi,” said Reid Park Zoo President & CEO Nancy Kluge. “We’re excited for the herd to gain a member and for Semba’s daughters to take on new roles as they play and grow with this new addition to the family.”