Powell, OH — The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has announced a naming opportunity for the female elephant calf born just under a week ago at the Zoo. The calf was born on Thursday, December 6 at 3:09 a.m. in the Zoo’s Asia Quest region.
The public is invited to help name the calf by voting for their favorite name choice from a list provided by one of the Zoo’s longtime supporters with input from the Zoo’s animal care team. The names were selected in honor and memory of Kathryn Elisabeth Anderson Koblentz by her husband, Bob Koblentz, and their children, Maureen Koblentz Groves and Rob Koblentz. Kathy had a very special place in her heart for the Columbus Zoo and all of the animals—especially the elephants—and the Zoo team truly appreciated her, too.
Kathy first became affiliated with the Zoo in 1972 when Mel Dodge, who was then director of the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, recruited her to help prepare the Zoo’s budget. At the time, she was a 25-year-old Budget Analyst with the City of Columbus. Once involved at the Zoo, she never looked back and continued to be active at the Zoo for the next 45 years. She served in a variety of leadership roles, including Treasurer, President and Chair of the Board of Directors—the first woman to hold these offices at the Zoo.
Kathy received several recognitions from the Zoo. She was named an Honorary Docent by the Columbus Zoo’s Docent Association in recognition of her service and commitment to the Zoo. She also received the Board Leadership Award from the Zoo Association. Kathy wasn’t satisfied simply with being an honorary docent, however. She decided to become a “real” docent and went through the required application process and trainings to become a full-fledged member of the docent organization. She is the only person in the history of the Zoo who was both an honorary docent as well as an active docent. Through her role as a docent, she mentored others and assisted in docent training in addition to her regular docent responsibilities.
Bob and his family, in conjunction with the Zoo’s animal care team, selected the following names:
- Darcy: inspired by Kathy’ favorite book, “Pride and Prejudice,” by Jane Austen. Kathy and Bob also had a beloved collie named Darcy.
- Lizzie: inspired by Kathy’s middle name Elisabeth, which is also a name variation of the central character, Elizabeth, in Kathy’s favorite book, “Pride and Prejudice,” by Jane Austen.
- Ellie: inspired by Kathy’s middle name Elisabeth
- Kobie: inspired by Kathy’s last name Koblentz
From December 12, 2018 until January 3, 2019, fans can vote for a single name within each 24-hour period on the Zoo’s website. The name of the female calf will be announced on the Zoo’s social media accounts and website on January 4, 2019.
The calf and her mother, Phoebe, are now spending some time each day in the elephant community room located in the Zoo’s Vanishing Giants building, where the public can view them for limited hours from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. while still offering them some privacy as they continue to bond. This schedule is determined by Phoebe and her calf and will be adjusted accordingly to best fit their needs. The public is encouraged to arrive earlier during the available viewing times and then stay to enjoy Wildlights.
The soon-to-be named calf is the first elephant born at the Columbus Zoo in almost 10 years and the first to be born at the Zoo as a result of artificial insemination. Mother, Phoebe, is a 31-year-old Asian elephant who came to the Zoo in January 2002. While Phoebe has had the opportunity to breed with Hank, a 30-year-old male elephant at the Columbus Zoo, the attempts were unsuccessful and she was artificially inseminated with sperm from Hank and a male from another zoo. The father of the calf is not yet known and will be determined through a DNA test with results expected in the coming weeks. Artificial insemination enables an elephant to be impregnated at her most fertile time. While still a relatively rare procedure for elephants, attempts to artificially inseminate elephants are becoming more frequent in an effort to bolster the numbers of endangered elephants, whose populations are rapidly declining in their native range.
The calf joins the herd of six Asian elephants in the Asia Quest region: males, Hank and Beco, and females, Phoebe, Connie, Sundara (Sunny) and Rudy. There have been three successful Asian elephant births at the Columbus Zoo throughout the Zoo’s history, and all three have been born to Phoebe —this most recent calf, Beco in 2009 and male, Bodhi, who was born in 2004 and now resides at Denver Zoo. Coco, who passed away at the Columbus Zoo in 2011, was the sire of Beco and Bodhi.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a long-time supporter of several direct elephant conservation initiatives benefiting both African and Asian elephants, including annual donations to the International Elephant Foundation and several research projects and grants over the last 23 years. Many of these research projects have focused on improving human-wildlife coexistence and monitoring elephant populations in their native ranges. Zoo visitors also have the opportunity to learn about elephant conservation and how they can contribute to the sustainability of this endangered species at the Zoo’s Elephant Conservation Station inside the “Vanishing Giants” building located in the Asia Quest region.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species™, Asian elephants are listed as endangered in their native range across southern and southeastern Asia and are in decline due to various factors, including habitat loss/degradation and poaching. The World Elephant Day organization estimates that there are less than 40,000 Asian elephants and fewer than 400,000 African elephants remaining worldwide.
For more information about the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and to cast your daily vote, please visit ColumbusZoo.org.