The Houston Zoo welcomed its second baby Asian elephant in less than five months on Sunday evening. Baby Tupelo joins Baylor at the zoo's McNair Asian Elephant Habitat, where the newborn is bonding with her mother, Tess.
The baby weighed in at 273 pounds and is a half sister of Baylor, who was born May 4 to mom Shanti and bull elephant Thailand. Thailand is also the new baby elephant's dad.
Baby elephant births are rare, celebrated events at zoos that draw international attention.
"This has been an incredible year for the elephant team at the Houston Zoo,” large mammal curator Daryl Hoffman said. “Elephant births in zoos are rare with maybe three or four a year. To have two births in a span of four months speaks volumes about the caliber of care the Houston Zoo provides for the elephants that live here."
The barn at the elephant habitat is temporarily closed to the public, as Tupelo and Tess are kept under 24-hour watch by Zoo staff. Many elephants born in captivity die shortly after their births, due largely to a strain of herpes that affects elephants. Baylor College of Medicine identified that virus and developed a new testing method for it, which is how little Baylor got his name.
Tupelo appears healthy and began nursing around four hours after she was born.
Fifty zoo volunteers and staff began a 24-7 birth watch back in August; it's unclear how Baylor feels about his family's new addition.
Check out Tupelo's first feeding: