Five of the six new elephants at the Henry Doorly Zoo are on display for the first time since they arrived from Swaziland, Africa last month. Zoo Director Dennis Pate says it has been an exciting journey for everyone involved. He says they are currently being trained by keepers on their morning routine and getting familiar with one another.
Pate says elephants are social animals and there is always a dominant figure. In this case it is a large female. He says she isn’t beyond pushing the others out of the way to get what she wants and the others always keep a close eye on her whereabouts. The bull elephant is currently not on display because he arrived with an injured ankle. Zoo veterinarians are keeping close tabs on his recovery and he will join the others when they see fit.
The elephants came from a drought stricken area and many were concerned they were very thin when they arrived. Pate says that isn’t necessarily the case. He says, “They seem thin but when you compare them to wild elephants they look about right. We tend to over feed them in zoos so we are watching that very closely. If anybody is on the thin side it would be the largest female but otherwise they look pretty good. They are getting a fantastic diet now but we will watch that closely so they don’t put on too much weight.”
The elephants haven’t been outside yet and today it is a bit too cool today to do so. They will first go out a few at a time to get used to their 30-thousand square foot yard and eventually the 3.3-acre area. Pate says construction in the larger area is nearly complete. They will be joined by zebras, impalas and guinea fowl.
Pate says they know that two of the elephants are mother and daughter and testing will be done eventually to see if any of the others in the group are related.