July 11, 2011
A few posts ago I wrote about how we care for, or manage, our nine-year-old bull, Kandula. Specifically, I wrote about how that management is evolving as he matures. Well, true to our predictions, he is now spending most of his time physically separated from the females although not isolated from them. The difference is that there is always a barrier between Kandula and the cows but he can be as close as he wants or, more importantly for us, as close as the girls want him to be.
After we initially started longer term separations, we thought that we'd observe their behavior and reevaluate when and how often to put them back together. What we observed was that everyone seemed to calm down significantly and the level of tension dropped in both Kandula and the girls. They all seemed to respond better to shifting (moving from one space to the next on cue) and to routine training sessions. We kept a careful eye out for any negative reactions from the separation but we really couldn’t see any. I believe that if we had tried to completely isolate Kandula from the girls it would have been a different story but the way we have it set up now, the girls and Kandula can choose how much time they spend in proximity to each other.
As Kandula matures and our population at the Zoo increases and changes, we will continue to evaluate and adapt our protocols to fit what is best for the elephants.
Elephant Trails Phase II Update
There has been quite a bit of progress made on the project since my last update on Phase II. The foundation for the floor of the public space has been poured and the area between the public space and the elephant space, where the keepers will be doing most of their work, can be seen clearly. If anything, in my own non-construction-minded opinion, I think they may be a little ahead of schedule. Either way, it is nice to be able to look through the door connecting the two sides of the project and see daily signs of progress.
We’ve also been shown some of the mock-ups for the graphics going up in the new indoor public space and have had an opportunity to comment on the wording as well as locations of the graphics to optimize their use while not obstructing the view for the public. We are lucky to have people on the exhibits design committee for Elephant Trails with a good background in zoo education, and I think it will show in the new indoor public space.
Want to see it for yourself?
The Zoo’s Elephant Ambassadors program is offering tours of the Elephant Trails facility. These behind-the-scenes tours provide an opportunity to watch the elephants being bathed inside and a look into an area that will never be available to the general public. The fee for the tours is a donation to the Elephant Ambassadors program fund, which goes to provide large enrichment items for the new Elephant Trails area. So if my posts have piqued your interest, consider taking a tour.
Questions and Comments?
I now have an account where people can email questions about the elephants at the Zoo and elsewhere. I will always try to answer the questions as accurately as I can but I can’t guarantee it will be in the form of an email to the sender. I may decide the best way to answer is to post my reply in an Elephant Diary. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.