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Meet Nelson, the sweet elephant calf born Tuesday at Houston Zoo

Nelson was born at the Houston Zoo on May 12, 2020.
Nelson was born at the Houston Zoo on May 12, 2020. (KPRC)

HOUSTON – The Houston Zoo welcomed a new addition to the family Tuesday but he’s anything but little.

Nelson was born at 6:30 a.m. to 29-year-old Asian elephant Shanti after a short labor, the zoo said. He weighed a whopping 326 pounds at birth!

However, Nelson didn’t have a very easy welcome to the world.

Just an hour after he was born, the elephant team and veterinary staff at the Houston Zoo saw he was bleeding heavily from his stomach.

“Upon further investigation, they determined that he tore a vessel in his umbilical cord during birth,” zoo officials wrote. “The team acted quickly to sedate the one-hour-old calf and get him into emergency surgery. The Houston Zoo veterinarians performed the 30-minute procedure to find the torn vessel, stop the bleeding, and close the hole in the calf’s abdomen.”

While Nelson was in surgery, the zoo’s elephant team went and collected whole blood from the rest of the herd in case Nelson would need blood transfusions.

“Shortly after surgery, the team reunited the calf with Shanti,” the zoo wrote. “The calf was soon standing and walking on his own and began to nurse before the day ended.”

While Nelson isn’t quite out of the woods yet, the zoo staff is “cautiously optimistic that he will make a full recovery."

Nelson is Shanti’s sixth calf and he has three siblings at the Houston zoo — 10-year-old Baylor, 6-year-old Duncan and 2-year-old Joy.

The zoo’s elephant herd is now 11-strong with five males and six female.s