Belle at Portland Zoo (Metro Washington Park Zoo)

† Belle
ID Number:   SSP Number: 41 - 
Species: Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)
Sex and age:Female ♀ 45 years old
Dead date: 1997-04-22
Death reason: euthanised: musculoskeletal problems; infection
Location:Portland Zoo (Metro Washington Park Zoo)
ArrivedPortland Zoo (Metro Washington Park Zoo) 1961-10-27
from Woodland Park Zoo
Woodland Park Zoo 1959-00-00
from Morgan Berry
Morgan Berry 1952-00-00
from
Born:1952 wild Thailand
Offspring and year of birth:
  1. (M) 1962-04-14 -- † 2017-02-09 Packy, SSP nr: 48
Document updated2011-01-02: Cause of death RE

1962:April 14, 1962: Belle delivers! Strain too much for zoo boss

A newly born 34-inch baby elephant wobbled around its mother, Belle, in Portland zoo this morning, while the zoo director rested in a hospital after collapsing from the strain. It was the first such birth in this country in 43 years.

Belle, a ten-year-old Siamese elephant, gave birth to the wee, grey baby this morning in the elephant house.

Three other female elephants were present, and one of them, Pet, tried to attack the baby.

Zoo director Jack Marks and other attendants grabbed hooks to steer the three to separate quarters. Then Marks, who has paced the floor with Belle for many days and nights during the past two months, collapsed and was rushed by ambulance to a hospital.

Hospital attendants said he probably would remain one day. They say he was exhausted and was suffering from a strained shoulder muscle.

Belle and the baby were doing fine. The baby estimated at 175 pounds, tottered to its feet within ten minutes and started nursing within a half hour.

Belle nuzzled it affectionately as it weaved through the straw and hid between her legs, wiggling its 18 inch trunk. Belle gave all signs of being a protective mother and zoo attendants kept their distance.

The last recorded elephant birth in this country was April 29, 1918 when the old circus elephant Princess Alice, gave birth to a baby at Salt Lake City.

That baby died. Its death was believed to be the result of its inability to digest cow’s milk after the mother refused to nurse it.

Belle two months ago sparked round-the-clock elephant house vigils when she started giving false birth alarms. She carried the baby for 633 days. Two of the elephants present at this mornings birth — Rosy and Tui Hoa — also are expecting.

Sex of the baby was not immediately known.

It was up to Belle’s owner, Morgan Berry of Seattle, when she and the baby would make their first public appearance. Berry, who raised Belle at his Seattle home, said he planned to raise the baby to adulthood. He did not say where.

Dr. Mathew Mayberry, Belle’s veterinarian was present for the birth.

Thonglaw, the ill-tempered father, remained in isolation for the time being. He has been kept away from the public because the male elephant has a temper and can be dangerous.

From archived copies of The Bulletin at the Des Chutes Historical Museum

Sources, among others

  • http://www.bendbulletin.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120415/NEWS0107/204150382/1002/NEWS01&nav_category=NEWS01
  • Oregon Zoo about Packy
  • "Table 4: Captive Elephants 1988-1999 and Additions to 1980-1988 Records," Elephant, The Publication of the Elephant Research Foundation, Vol 2 No 4, January 2000. p 65-71

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