Reid Park Zoo’s semba gets around-the-clock attention

Pampered pachyderm enjoys pregnancy perks

2014-07-26T00:00:00Z 2014-08-21T15:16:38Z Pampered pachyderm enjoys pregnancy perksBy Kimberly Matas Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 26, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Nearing the end of her pregnancy, one lucky Tucson gal is being treated to all the pampering a soon-to-be mama deserves.

Foot rubs, gentle stretching exercises, nutritious snacks, ultrasound scans, constant attention, a baby shower.

Of course, for Semba, an African elephant at the Reid Park Zoo, a shower isn’t about gifts and cake. It means regular hose-downs to keep the pachyderm cool during the final days of her 22-month pregnancy.

Sometime between now and mid-August, Semba will give birth to a trumpeting 200-pound bundle of joy.

Until then, keepers, interns and volunteers are monitoring her around the clock, recording every movement and watching for signs of labor, said Vivian VanPeenen, spokeswoman for the Reid Park Zoo.

And once labor begins, everyone will likely just stand back and watch, VanPeenen said. Semba knows what she’s doing. She has given birth twice before.

Keepers don’t know the gender of the calf, but upon his or her arrival, it will the first successful birth of an elephant in Arizona, VanPeenen said.

The wee one will join the other elephant exhibit denizens: Mabu, Lungile, Punga and Sandzu.

And to put the kibosh on the Reid Park Zoo rumor mill: Mabu, you are the father.

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