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Meet the Zoo's Asian Elephants

Four Asian elephants—Ambika, Shanthi, Bozie, and Kandula—live at the National Zoo, but plans call for growing the herd to form a social group like those found in the wild. Elephant Trails is designed to accommodate a multi-generation herd.

Three female Asian elephants—Kamala, Swarna, and Maharani—arrived from Calgary Zoo in 2014, expanding our herd to seven elephants.

Kandula

Kandula
Born: November 25, 2001
Sex: Male
Weight: Currently about 7,000 pounds. He weighed 324 pounds when he was born.
Name: Kandula was named for the most famous elephant in Sri Lanka’s history. The original Kandula was a gift to an infant prince 2,150 years ago, and the future king and his elephant grew up together. The elephant was known for his courage, strength and loyalty.
History at the Zoo:

Kandula is Shanthi's son and was born at the National Zoo.

Shanthi

Born: Around 1975
Sex: Female
Weight:

Approximately 9,000 pounds.

Name: Shanthi means “peace” or “blessing” in Sinhalese (translation varies from region to region).
History at the Zoo:

Shanthi was given to the National Zoo as a gift from the children of Sri Lanka in 1976. Kandula is her second calf; a female born in 1993 died of elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) in 1995.

Origin:

Shanthi came from Sri Lanka, where she lived at the Pinnewela Elephant Orphanage until 1976.

Bozie

Born: Around 1975
Sex: Female
Weight:

Approximately 10,000 pounds.

History at the Zoo:

Bozie arrived at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in May 2013, on loan from the Baton Rouge Zoo after her companion died.

Origin:

She was born in June 1975 in Sri Lanka and went to live at the Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage 1976. In November 1976 she moved to the Lincoln Park Zoo in the United States. She moved several times between zoos until 1998, when she went to live at the Baton Rouge Zoo.

Ambika

Born: Around 1948
Sex: Female
Weight:

Approximately 7,300 pounds.

History at the Zoo:

Ambika was given to the national Zoo as a gift from the children of India in 1961.

Origin:

Ambika was captured in the Coorg forest in India when she was about eight years old and placed in a logging camp.

Kamala

Kamala
Born: Around 1975 in Sri Lanka
Sex: Female
History:

Kamala arrived at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in May 2014 on loan from Calgary Zoo.

Origin:

Kamala came from Sri Lanka, where she lived at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage until 1976.

Kamala’s first calf Chanda was the first Asian elephant born in Canada and has gone on to sire 13 surviving calves. Her second calf is Maharani.

Kamala can be described as incredibly dependable, loves her food, and for many years has functioned as the matriarch of the Calgary Zoo elephants. 

She can be identified by the missing notch from her left ear.

Swarna

Kamala
Born: Around 1975 in Sri Lanka
Sex: Female
History:

Swarna arrived at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in May 2014 on loan from Calgary Zoo.

Origin:

Swarna came from Sri Lanka, where she lived at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage until 1976.

Swarna has never become pregnant, but she has been an exceptional “auntie” to both of Kamala’s calves and to Maharani’s calf. There are stories of her standing guard over the sleeping Maharani, shading her from the summer sun for hours, guarding and protecting the various calves, herding them away from anything potentially dangerous to them.

Swarna can easily be identified as the smallest of the three females from Calgary Zoo with pink dots on the edges of her ears. She is sweet-natured and does things very slowly and deliberately.

Maharani

Born: July 14, 1990 at Calgary Zoo
Sex: Female
Name::

Maharani means “princess” in Hindi

History:

Maharani arrived at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in May 2014 on loan from Calgary Zoo.

Origin:

Maharani is Kamala's second calf. True to her name, she is a princess. She expects attention, acts out occasionally, and looks to Kamala for direction when faced with something new. 

Maharani has had three pregnancies. One ended in a miscarriage and two resulted in calves that did not survive.

Maharani, or “Rani” as she is affectionately called, is easily the tallest of the three elephants.