Rani, a Calgary Zoo elephant that has already lost two calves, is pregnant again.
Rani had her first calf, Keemaya, in 2004 and another, Malti, in 2007. The first died shortly after being rejected by its mother at birth.
The second was also rejected, but the two bonded a few months later. Malti died about a year later of elephant herpes virus.
Zookeeper Colleen Baird says staff are better prepared for this birth, which is expected in February 2013.
"She's about 10, 11 months along," she said. "They have a 22-month gestation period, so it's a long time. If you come to the zoo, you won't be able to tell that she's pregnant — they don't show — but over that two-year period of time, she'll gain about 500 pounds. And we hope to have a healthy baby."
Maharani, commonly known as Rani, was born at the Calgary Zoo to mother Kamala and father Bandara in 1990.
Asian elephants are endangered and Baird says the Calgary Zoo is part of the species survival breeding plan.
The program's mission is to co-operatively manage specific, and typically threatened or endangered, species population within accredited zoos.
There are four elephants at the Calgary Zoo — three females and one bull male named Ganesha, otherwise known as Spike, who impregnated Rani all three times.