Reid Park Zoo & Baby Elephant Nandi
Reid Park zoo and its star attraction, the baby elephant, Nandi, are set to break attendance records in 2014. This was the first elephant birth for the zoo and has captured the attention of countless fans.
Nestled in the middle of bustling mid-town Tucson, the zoo has always been a tiny marvel. Once inside visitors forget that they are in the middle of a heavily populated city surrounded by highways and traffic. Its clever design makes a jungle-like oasis only about five minutes from the University of Arizona and a few minutes more to downtown Tucson. This year people waited anxiously knowing that a pregnant elephant was about to give birth. Nandi was born on August 20th but kept in a quiet area with her mother, Semba. Even a royal birth might not have been so closely watched as zoo staff kept a vigil 24 hours a day, until she was born. At night interns stayed up observing with night vision goggles for any signs of labor.
Weighing in at 245 lbs she seemed like a toy animal next to her mother who tipped the scales at more than 7,000 lbs. They were kept in seclusion for a month until the baby was healthy enough to be allowed in the viewing area. In December she weighed more than 500 lbs but still looks tiny next to the three adults and one 3 year old in the herd. All the elephants were rescued from Swaziland and came to Tucson via the San Diego Zoo after new construction greatly increased the size of the elephant enclosure. Her dad is Mabu and he weighs more than 8 tons. We’re not sure how they weigh elephants but we’ll take their word for it. The zoo opens at 9 am during the cool months and Nandi is usually on display until about 11:30 am. You won’t want to miss Nandi when you visit Tucson; it’s going to take her quite a few years to be as big as her parents, the three year old, and the other giant males.
The zoo’s small size makes it an ideal place to spend a few hours being amazed at the diversity of the animal world.
There are many other reasons to visit this gem of a zoo, which has a wide range of animals and birds big and small, including Herbie, the giant turtle (500 lbs. who could be as old as 100 years but he’s not talking.)
Ample parking surrounds the zoo, just 2.5 miles from Sam Hughes Inn and next to the Randolph Park Golf Course, Tennis courts and directly opposite Edith Ball Adaptive pools (swimming & therapy pools heated and open year round) with UV protected circus tent style roof. You can bring a picnic lunch and eat in the park near a large man made lake with fountain and the usual visiting duck population.