In April 2015, Nashville Zoo announced plans to eventually grow our African elephant herd. The following blog, written in November 2015, is an update of what has transpired since April and our plans moving forward.
Juno, a 36-year old female African elephant was sent to The National Elephant Center in Fellsmere, Florida in April. This move marked the beginning of our plans to renovate our existing elephant barn to include state-of-the-art equipment and adhere to the latest standards of elephant management as outlined by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
The renovations will be extensive and extremely invasive making it necessary to move all elephants to other facilities. Our plan was to have Hadari (33), Rosie (44) and Sukari (31), all female African elephants, join Juno in Florida until all renovations were complete, and then move all four back to Nashville.
Since that time, we have extensively studied the work that will go into the existing elephant barn renovations. Additionally, we have studied our plans to create a larger African exhibit featuring rhinoceros, hippopotamus, lions, cheetahs, gorillas and much more. This expansion includes a larger herd of elephants including bull elephants. Housing all of these animals and providing them with the best possible care will take careful planning and funding. At this point, we continue to examine several options. We recognize that the process of funding, renovating and expanding our elephant facilities may take more time than we predicted earlier in the year. As such, we believe the best decision is to find permanent homes for our elephants.
Hadari is privately owned by a couple who have worked for the Zoo caring for elephants for many years. They wanted Hadari to be close so they could visit her and we respect that decision. We also wanted to keep Rosie’s trip to a new home as short as possible due to her age. This made The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN an attractive option for both. In the end, we found it best to keep Sukari with the other two. Our fourth elephant, Juno, died unexpectedly in August at The National Elephant Center from complications due to an undetected intestinal disease.
We continue to push forward with our growth and ask our guests and supporters to be patient as we negotiate the best path to take. Already, we are working on placing white rhinos into the existing elephant habitat giving our guest a sample of what to expect in the future.
Nashville Zoo is dedicated to providing the best possible care for our animals. Our vision is to eventually have a growing elephant herd to ensure that generations of visitors will see and experience these magnificent creatures for years to come.
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