November 21, 2003
Contact: Peper Long 202-673-0206
Sketch of New Elephant Yard
National Zoo Opens Expanded Elephant Yard on Kandula’s Birthday
On Tuesday, November 25, the Smithsonian’s
National Zoological Park will open an expanded elephant
yard designed specifically for the Asian elephant bull “Kandula” on
his second birthday. At 7:30 a.m., media are invited
to watch Kandula and his mother, Shanthi, as they are
released into their expanded home.
The expanded elephant yard – made possible by generous funding from Friends of the National Zoo – is only one step of the National Zoo’s revitalization plans. This yard, which was the former rhinoceros yard, has been fortified in order to hold the elephant bull as he grows bigger.
The expanded yard opening on Tuesday provides Kandula with 16,600 square feet in which he can play, revel, and most importantly, grow, while the revitalization plans continue. An important asset of the expanded yard is a new barrier system that will ensure Kandula’s safe containment, while allowing keepers to manage mature elephants through protective contact. The barrier system, which includes a hydraulic gate, is designed to withstand approximately 10,000 pounds of vertical and horizontal force.
The long-term plans for the Zoo’s elephant facility – part of Asia Trail – will triple the indoor and outdoor space available to the elephant herd, and accommodate more than one bull elephant and up to six cows. These plans now being designed, and construction is slated to begin in 2005.
Kandula, the first male elephant born at the National Zoo, is a product of artificial insemination, and was born on Nov. 25, 2001. He has gained an average of nearly two pounds per day from his birth weight, and as of this summer, he weighed 1,686 pounds. Bull elephants grow to approximately 10,000-12,000 pounds.
This Sunday, November 23 at 9 p.m. EST, the Discovery Channel presents a 1-hour special that follows Kandula’s first year of life. This program tells his story from the pioneering science that made his conception possible, to his breathtaking birth, and through the National Zoo’s fervent efforts to keep Kandula healthy.
Founded in 1889, the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park exhibits living animal and plant collections that celebrate, study and protect the diversity of animals and their habitats. Each year, nearly three million visitors enjoy the 163-acre park, which is free of charge. The National Zoo is a leading research center for conservation and reproductive biology, with scientists working at the Zoo as well as the 3,200-acre Conservation and Research Center in Front Royal, Va. Currently, there are approximately 2,600 animals from 435 species in the Zoo's collection.
For more information – and to schedule coverage, contact Peper Long, National Zoo Office of Public Affairs, (202) 673-0206.