Staff, 2022-11-02 00:06:00,
Zoo Knoxville in Knoxville, Tenn., faced a dilemma in planning for the long-term wellbeing of resident African elephants Tonka, 44, Jana, 42, and Edie, 39. One day, they would be too old to travel. Faced with the reality that at least one of their beloved elephants would end up alone in the next few years if they stayed, the Zoo made the difficult decision to send all three to the Elephant Sanctuary, in Hohenwald, Tenn., an Association of Zoos and Aquariums-certified related facility only five hours away.
Photo Credit: Lou Alexander
“Although every elephant is unique, Zoo Knoxville’s elephants are social and bonded to each other. To be proactive and strategic, we started to look for them to have opportunities for socialization as they age,” said Lisa New, president and chief executive officer of Zoo Knoxville, who wanted to act while they were all healthy enough to relocate. “This was in their best interest. The Elephant Sanctuary currently has several other elephants as potential companions as our small herd faces inevitable losses in the future. Being an AZA-certified related facility, which ensures the same gold standard of care, the short distance of travel, and the availability of other possible social companions is why we made that decision.”
The elephant care team worked with AZA’s Elephant Taxon Advisory Group and Species Survival Plan® to identify options that met their parameters, then unanimously agreed this was the best…
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