Changing Planet

Unwanted African Elephant Herd Expands Into New Quarters in San Diego Zoo

With only one month to spare before the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s African elephant herd grows by one more with the birth of a calf expected in January — for a total of 17 elephants — the elephant habitat has nearly doubled in size to 5.5 acres, the zoo said in a statement released with this photo.

San Diego Zoo elephant herd.jpg

Photo taken December 7, 2010, by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Enlarge the photo by clicking on it.

Said the Zoo:

“The Safari Park’s six adult female elephants and eight youngsters, ranging in age from 7 months to 6 years old, moved as a unit while exploring the new area on Tuesday. Although most of the adults kept close together to protect the herd, the calves enjoyed playing in a pile of soft dirt, rolling in hay and pulling up grass bunches.

“The exhibit expansion provides a second pool for swimming, another barn to warm up in during the winter months, if needed, and additional enrichment items to keep the elephants mentally and physically fit. The new space was vacated in 2009 by four Asian elephants that found a new home at the San Diego Zoo’s Harry and Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey, a 7.5-acre exhibit housing more than 30 species of animals including lions and California condors.

“After months of planning and fund-raising, hydraulic gates were built to connect the two yards to create one large habitat for the herd that has doubled its size since the adults were rescued in 2003 from the Kingdom of Swaziland. There, they faced being killed because elephant overpopulation was destroying habitat.”

The 1,800-acre San Diego Zoo Safari Park (historically referred to as Wild Animal Park) is operated by the not-for-profit San Diego Zoo and includes a 900-acre native species reserve. The Zoo also manages the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.

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Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media. David Braun edits the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn
  • Nancy

    I absolutely love the Elephant cam, check in there several times a day. Congratulations on the newest calf born 8/28/12. She sure is a beauty. My question is: Do all the Elephants spend the night indoors? Is what they eat all day the only food they receive? Do Elephants ever lay down to sleep? I do worry about the new calf trying to lay down for a nap & one of the others always come to her & make her get up. She must be exhausted at the end of each day?

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