Calgary’s female elephants moving to Smithsonian
CALGARY — The Calgary Zoo says its three female elephants will make a new home together in Washington, D.C.
Kamala, Swarna and Maharani are expected to be moved to the Smithsonian National Zoo next spring.
The Calgary facility first announced in April 2012 that it would relocate its four elephants to zoos with more space and a more suitable climate.
A male Asian elephant named Ganesh is to be moved to Busch Gardens in Florida later this year.
The elephant, who is nicknamed Spike, had been on an extended loan from the Miami Zoo after it was hit by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Animal rights activists, including retired The Price is Right host Bob Barker, have long pressed for Edmonton’s Valley Zoo to relocate its lone elephant.
The search for a new home for Calgary’s trunked trio took months to finalize because of the zoo’s stringent welfare-based criteria, president and CEO Clement Lanthier said Tuesday.
“It will be a very sad day for our keepers, staff, members, volunteers and community when our elephants leave the Calgary Zoo, but this decision is about them and what is best for their long-term welfare,” Lanthier said in a release.
“We have been in lengthy discussions with the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, two of our staff visited the facility and we are confident that they will be able to provide an excellent new home with greater capacity and a more suitable year-round climate for our three female elephants.’
Calgary’s pachyderms will be part of the Smithsonian zoo’s newly developed Elephant Trails exhibit. They will be introduced to four other Asian elephants living there and eventually form a multi-generational herd.
“We wanted them to go to a facility where their social group can expand, where they can be part of a breeding program and where they can have greater freedom to spend time in the open air year round, 24 hours per day,” said Jake Veasey, director of animal care, conservation and research.