Don't Wait for Dumbo, Meet Tilly! Houston Zoo Welcomes a New 345-Pound Baby Elephant

Why wait until March 2019 for Tim Burton’s new live action Dumbo film when you can head over to the Houston Zoo and meet a real magical creature, Tilly the baby elephant, in the flesh?

The zoo proudly announced the arrival of the newborn pachyderm on Sunday morning. Weighing in at 345 pounds, her mama Tess, an Asian elephant, nursed her within hours of birth. The keepers and veterinary staff of the zoo’s McNair Asian Elephant Habitat say this is the third healthy calf for the 35-year-old mother. They also chose her name.

“Our animal team is thrilled that the birth has gone smoothly,” said Lisa Marie Avendano, vice president of animal operations at the Houston Zoo. “We look forward to continuing to watch Tilly and Tess bond, and introducing her to Houston.”

The mother-daughter pair will undergo post-natal exams and will be allowed a number of days behind the scenes, bonding privately, before they are introduced to their adoring public. At this time, the zoo team will be keeping an eye on Tess and Tilly, looking for key moments of communication, as well as hitting goal weights.

Since elephant babies are pretty wobbly as newborns, Tilly will be fitted with a harness to help her stand steadily, especially while nursing.

Tess is also mom to elephants Tucker, 13, and Tupelo, 7. Tilly’s birth raises the Houston Zoo’s herd population to ten, four males and six females.

A portion of each zoo admission and membership goes towards protecting around 200-250 wild elephants in Asia. The Houston Zoo began this work in Borneo in 2007, and it also helps fund elephant conservationist Nurzhafarina “Farina” Othman and her team, who work to put tracking collars on the animals. The collars provide the team with valuable research which helps protect the elephants.

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