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Tuesday, March 27, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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And the winner is ... Hansa: First-grader names zoo's baby elephant

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Woodland Park Zoo's 4-month old baby elephant can stop responding to "Hey You!" and start coming to Hansa, the name submitted by 6½ year-old Madison Gordon of Redmond.

For being selected from the nearly 16,000 entries submitted in the month-long Name the Baby Elephant Sweepstakes, Madison wins a trip for two to Thailand and a chance to meet and greet the calf inside the zoo's elephant barn.

Hansa (pronounced HUN-suh) means "supreme happiness" in Thailand, birthplace of the female calf's mother, Chai.

"I knew when she was born she was always so happy and everybody else was happy to just to see her running around. So it was supreme happiness," said Madison, who attends the first grade at Norman Rockwell Elementary in Redmond.

"I was totally amazed," Madison said after she was announced as the contest winner.

She immediately gave her Thailand tickets to her teacher, Susan Hoffman, who she said "has always wanted to go to Thailand."

An independent audit company processed the names and picked 10 finalists at random. From those, elephant keepers and a representative of Thai Airways International picked the winner.

Contestants had to be Washington residents and the name had to be of Thai origin.

Another finalist, Susan Bradbury, 37, of Seattle got the name Nit-Noi from her father, who spent time in Thailand while serving in the Vietnam War. "It gave me the opportunity to ask him more questions about Thailand," she said.

A tongue-in-cheek entry from the Pacific Science Center, where the Titanic artifact exhibit is on display, did not qualify. Their choice was "Thai-Tanic."

Workers at Thai restaurants have complained about being asked how to spell "hope" in Thai.

"I heard every Thai dictionary in town was sold out," said Chatrachai Bunya-ananta, former chairman of Thai Airways. "Mr. Chai," as he is known, is the namesake of Hansa's mother, Chai, 22.

He was visiting yesterday with Clancy Wilde, former senior vice president of Boeing, who, in a roundabout way, is the namesake for another elephant Sri (pronounced See).

In 1980 and 1981, Chai and Sri (which was once "C," short for Clancy) arrived at Woodland Park as 1-year-olds, gifts from the airline and Bangkok, Seattle's sister city, to commemorate delivery of Thai Airway's first Boeing 747.

Hansa, who weighs 621 pounds, up from 235 at birth, is "growing like a weed," reports senior keeper Pat Maluy. She is learning "step up" and "lie down" commands for which she gets carrot and yam treats.

Zoo attendance has doubled since her Nov. 3 birth, which prompted this proposed name from zoo workers: "Casha-Cow."

Sherry Stripling can be reached at 206-464-2520 or sstripling@seattletimes.com.

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