September 5, 2011
Sorry for the long break! You would be amazed at how much of an eight-hour work day is actually taken up with caring for elephants. Since I wrote my last diary entry, I have received a few questions and comments that are mostly regarding the same things.
One of the most common is about the plans for increasing the size of our herd. Right now we have three animals—two adult females and a young male, but we do intend to house more animals and eventually work our way toward exhibiting a multi-generational related herd of elephants, including additional space for bull elephants. Those are the long-term goals. However, we do have some, relatively speaking, short-term goals and needs that we need to address that may help us toward our long-term goals.
One of our priorities right now is that we need to bring in a companion animal for Shanthi. Although pretty healthy, Ambika is 63, tied for the third oldest elephant in North America! It is possible that she could live into her 80s but not very likely. We liken that to a person living to 110 or beyond. So to prevent Shanthi from being alone and to ease the eventual transition we want to identify and bring in one or two cows to bond with the elephants.
Our next, but just as important, priority is to restart our breeding program. It is uncertain at this point if we will ever be breeding Shanthi again for various reasons so if we want a breeding program and we want to pass Shanthi’s genetics on, via Kandula, we need to bring in some breedable cows. Optimally this would be a mother/daughter pair, both of breeding age. Not only would this give us two breedable females but it would also put us two steps forward toward our goal of a multi-generational related herd. The Asian elephant population in North America is both aging and shrinking (in numbers), so finding appropriate companions is a very difficult process and takes time.
Elephant Trails Phase II Update
Construction on Phase II continues to progress well. They are really beginning to get into the guts of the facility as you can see from this photo taken on September 4. The bollards for the elephant barrier are starting to go up. These give you a good idea of the size of the Elephant Community Center. From those bollards to the very large door openings all way to the right side of the photo and from where I’m standing to take the picture all the way to the far end where the scaffolding is set up is all one space. To give more of idea of the scale of the space, those doors in the back are about 16 feet wide!
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.