Why this birth matters

Even if you’ve seen them in photos or on TV, nothing helps establish a connection with an elephant like seeing one for yourself. It brings a greater appreciation and understanding of these awe-inspiring animals, which leads to an interest in conserving them.

Our elephants are also powerful ambassadors, championing conservation for their wild counterparts. But don’t take our word for it; come see for yourself!


Born: Friday, June 3, 2011 at 11:28 p.m.
Weight: 300 pounds (estimated)
Height: 36 inches (estimated)
Gender: Male (Bull Calf)
Mother: Renee, 32-year-old African elephant
Sibling: Eight-year-old Louie, born in 2003
“Auntie:” Twiggy, 26-year-old female who arrived at the Toledo Zoo in Febrary, 2010
Father: Paternity will be determined at a later date.

Video clips of Lucas also available on YouTube

Lucas’ online “baby book”

Continue to check back for updates, photos and video ... they grow up so fast, don’t they?

May, 2013: (Almost) two terrific years old

What a difference a year makes! Lucas stands about 5 feet tall and weighs about 1,630 pounds. Since his first birthday celebration in 2012, he’s grown a foot in height and about 600 pounds in weight. He’s also started growing small tusks (look for them when you see him).

On Saturday, June 1, Lucas celebrates his second birthday with elephan-tastic enrichment presents hand-crafted by his keepers and ZOOTeens, plus a special cake the Zoo’s catering team made just for him. Learn more here.

May, 2012: Tembo Trail opens

At almost one year old, Lucas quickly made himself comfortable in the new Tembo Trail space. He stands about 4 feet tall and weighs about 1,100 pounds—a big increase over his birth measurements of about 36 inches tall and 300 pounds!

Lucas is still charming visitors with his current favorite activities of chasing ducks that wander into his exhibit (sometimes with adorable elephant trumpeting) and “helicoptering,” or spinning in circles—whether it’s with a Tembo Trail welcome banner or all by himself, just for fun. Check out some fun footage of him during the Tembo Trail Grand Opening ceremonies here.

April, 2012: new digs

Renee and Lucas were the first of our four elephants to move into new (indoor) quarters at our fast-growing Tembo Trail. We could tell you about the great features of these indoor quarters, but we thought it would be more fun to let Lucas and Renee show you how much they enjoy the big new sand stall—click here to watch a fun video clip of them exploring it.

Within less than a week after we posted this video on YouTube, it had more than 100,000 views worldwide!

March, 2012: playful “little” pachyderm

At 9 months old, Lucas stands 3’7” at the shoulder and weighs about 800 pounds.

When Lucas sleeping or nursing from Mom, Lucas plays with anything and everything that he can move—wood shavings, sand, twigs, even his play ball. We can’t wait to introduce him to the nearly limitless enrichment options of Tembo Trail, our dynamic new elephant exhibit! Although he’s growing fast, he’s still a curious, active young calf who has even been known to stand on his hind legs to reach a “Mom-height” treat in our enrichment walls.

December, 2011: six big months old!

It’s been a big six months for “little” Lucas! He has more than doubled his birth weight of 300 pounds, weighing in at about 670 pounds right now. His appetite continues to change as he tries new foods; grapes and apple slices are now among his favorite treats.

Autumn leaves were crunchy fun for him while they were still on the ground, courtesy of the trees in and near his exhibit. He enjoyed picking them up and even munching on them a little (though he didn’t like how they tasted and was quick to spit them back out).

He’s starting to interact more with the hanging enrichment keepers have provided for him, including big tires that have been cut in half so they are “Lucas-sized.” But his play time isn’t limited to the outdoors; he’s discovered how much fun something as simple as soft wood shavings can be when he’s inside! For a quick video clip that will have you smiling all day, click here.

October, 2011: growing and gaining

Celery sticks have bypassed bananas as a favorite food—one of the first places Lucas now heads when he and Renee come off exhibit is a bucket filled with celery sticks.

Our keepers started giving Renee celery sticks, or “crunchy water,” when she was pregnant, because it was a low-calorie filler food she could munch on without gaining extra weight. But little Lucas likes them, too. He’s also enjoying the banana plants that our horticulture staff have cut down on the Zoo grounds. Seasonal tree- and plant-trimming is a happy time for many of our animals who enjoy the “harvest.”

At four months of age, Lucas’ training is limited and positive, focusing on making sure he’s comfortable around his keepers but otherwise letting him be the active character he is. Renee continues to be a great role model for her son—she’s a patient, attentive mother who is also calm and relaxed around her keepers and the many visitors who come to see her and Lucas.

We estimate Lucas’ weight at about 550 pounds, still growing more in weight than in height. Come see him today!

September, 2011: all go and no quit

As more than 100,000 Zoo visitors already know, Lucas is “all boy.” He is building a solid fan club with his on-the-go antics. We wish we had his energy!

Although he is growing every day, it is more by weight than height. He is about three inches taller than he was when he was born, currently standing about 40 inches high at the shoulder. But he’s gained more than 150 pounds, tipping the scales right now at 470 pounds.

As he adjusts to these daily changes, you might expect him to be clumsy or struggle to keep his balance. But Lucas is proving otherwise. Visitors have even seen him walking along the top of the big log in his exhibit as if it were a balance beam (something his big brother, Louie, did as a calf, too—and continues to do now as an eight-year-old!).

Lucas’ “trunkability” continues to improve as he learns how to use his trunk for more complex tasks. He’s trying out more kinds of food, and right now bananas are one of his favorite treats or snacks.

If you miss seeing him on exhibit during your next visit to the Zoo, you can check out his video that plays in the Museum of Science on a continuous loop. Or you can watch him from home! We’ve installed a webcam at http://www.toledozoo.org/webcams .

July 12, 2011: Lucas turns one month old

Since Lucas’ birth on June 3, he has added more than 60 pounds to his birth weight of 305 pounds, four teeth have erupted (he will not grow tusks until he’s older) and he has explored every inch of his exhibit.

He continues to delight visitors with his pachyderm playfulness, whether he is pushing his blue plastic barrel around or digging in soft sand to find buried treasures (small tires and other safe enrichment objects). The small mud wallow zookeepers created for him is proving fun, too. When all that playing wears him out, he stretches out on his side, often in the shade of his mother, Renee, and takes a short nap.

As adorable as his antics are, they are all important lessons that help build his strength, communication abilities and motor skills as he grows. And he is definitely growing! Lucas gains about two pounds every day, and he will likely continue that rate of growth for the next two to three years.

Since June 7, when he and his mother, Renee, went on exhibit, more than 75,000 visitors have visited Lucas. Come see him while he’s still “little!” He and Renee are on exhibit daily ‘til 4 p.m., though the animals’ well-being or weather changes may require briefly moving them off exhibit. The Zoo has also installed a webcam in the exhibit so you can watch him online at http://www.toledozoo.org/webcams .

June 30, 2011: Nameless no more—meet Lucas!

After nearly 8,000 entries in the Zoo’s naming contest, “Lucas” won by 3,000 votes. The name, which was the keepers’ favorite, honors the long-time support of Lucas County voters.

“The Toledo Zoo is a regional treasure,” said Anne Baker, executive director. “We are grateful to Lucas County voters who have supported us over the years and helped us become one of the best zoos in the U.S. That support certainly includes Lucas, a reminder of the plight of African elephants. Words like habitat loss, human conflict and poaching remain ‘just words’ until you see these noble animals for yourself and realize the challenges they face.”

The Name the Baby Elephant contest, sponsored by 13abc, The Blade and K-100, began on June 13 and ended on June 27 at 12 noon. People submitted entries online, in person at the Zoo’s North Star Trading Post® and KC’s Corner gift shops, and through a mail-in ballot printed in The Blade.

Come see “newly named Lucas” today!

June 22, 2011: fun, food and family

The elephant calf weighs about 335 pounds, and we expect him to gain an average of two to three pounds each day for the next two to three years. He is intrigued by the “boy toys” our keepers have put in his yard—his favorite so far is a 55-gallon plastic barrel that he loves to push around the yard (watch for that on your next visit!). He really puts on a show for visitors when he’s outside, especially when he plays in the little wallow that keepers have made for him and Renee.

Like many youngsters, he is mouthing anything he can reach. He is getting more dexterous with his trunk, using it to pick up hay and leafy branches of mulberry and bamboo. As with any youngster learning to “self-feed,” some of what he picks up even makes it into his mouth.

He has formally met his big brother, Louie, and his honorary Aunt Twiggy, and the introductions went well, though he and Renee will remain separated from the other elephants for now. Renee continues to be an excellent mom to her big little guy, which we expected after the great job of parenting she did with Louie.

Come see them today!

June 17, 2011: two big weeks old

The elephant calf is now two weeks old! He weighs about 315 pounds. When he is full grown, he could stand nearly 10 feet tall and weigh more than 10,000 pounds.

After first “meeting” the public on June 7, he is becoming more confident with his environment, sometimes going off for a stroll while Renee eats. He is learning how to use his trunk, too. Although he is still nursing exclusively and is too young to eat hay, he has been mimicking his mother as she uses her trunk to pick up hay and put it in her mouth.

While we are thrilled with the elephant calf’s continued progress and the excellent maternal behavior Renee is showing, the well-being of both animals remains our top priority. Public viewing, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., may be limited and irregular depending upon their needs or any weather changes that might be stressful to one or both of them.

June 7, 2011: public meets new calf

Today, Renee and her new calf went on exhibit for the first time. We will attempt to have them on exhibit between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.; public viewing during those times may be irregular depending on their needs. In addition to ensuring that the calf remains strong and healthy, and that Renee continues to be comfortable as a new mom and with the presence of people, weather changes may require periodically bringing both animals off exhibit.

If Renee and the calf are off exhibit, Louie (Renee’s eight-year-old first offspring), and Twiggy (a 26-year-old female that arrived at the Zoo in February 2010), may be available for viewing during regular Zoo hours.

June 6, 2011: progress continues

The calf is bonding well with his mother, is nursing independently and shows youthful curiosity about his environment. He stood within minutes of birth, and his mother, Renee, is showing excellent material behavior. After keepers had a chance to complete an initial examination, they learned that the calf is bigger than first estimates. He stands about 37 inches high and weighs about 300 pounds.

June 3, 2011: Renee delivers elephant calf

Toledo, Ohio—The Toledo Zoo is proud to announce that 32-year-old Renee, one of their two female African elephants, gave birth to her second calf, a male, estimated weight approximately 300 pounds, at 11:28 pm on Friday, June 3.The yet unnamed calf was born without assistance and appears to be healthy.

“After 22 long months of anxious anticipation, it’s extremely gratifying to have a healthy calf,” said Dr. Anne Baker, the Zoo’s Executive Director. The calf stood within minutes of birth and Renee is showing excellent maternal behavior.

The calf was conceived in August of 2009 through an artificial insemination procedure performed by Elephant Reproductive Specialist Dr. Dennis Schmitt and the Toledo Zoo animal care team. There were two sperm donors and paternity will be determined at a later date. “With the major hurdle of the birth behind us, there are still many critical milestones ahead for Renee and her calf, including bonding, successful nursing, introduction to the other Toledo Zoo elephants, the one-year mark, and weaning,” said Dr. Chris Hanley, Toledo Zoo Chief Veterinarian.

Though the Toledo Zoo is delighted with the successful birth, they remain cautiously optimistic about the future of Renee’s calf. Mother and calf are being monitored round the clock to ensure that the calf begins nursing and that Renee continues to exhibit good maternal behavior.