SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Hogle Zoo’s elephants Christie, 37, and Zuri, 14, have safely arrived at their new home in Kansas City on Thursday morning.
Utah’s Hogle Zoo announced the two elephants made it to the Kansas City Zoo and Aquarium where they will be joining a multigenerational herd of seven other African elephants. The elephants left Utah earlier this week after a six-hour loading process that used cranes and specialized crates.
The two elephants were moved to Kansas City with the goal of helping Zuri find a mate and have increased chances of having calves of her own. Among the Kansas City Zoo and Aquarium herd is a male named Tamani, who is 18 years old and a genetically diverse match for Zuri.
“Utah’s Hogle Zoo believes we have selected an accredited partner who meets all the goals we sought for Christie and Zuri, including excellence in animal care, a multigenerational herd, and the opportunity for offspring,” said Hogle Zoo President and CEO Doug Lund. “Working with the team over these many planning months has formed a bond that will continue our collaboration with African elephants and updates on Christie and Zuri’s progress.”
The joint herd of elephants will live together on more than three acres of outdoor space. They will have a large pool, a mud hole, two waterfalls, shade structures, and several opportunities to explore, interact, and train. The elephant building at the Kansas City Zoo and Aquarium has seven indoor stalls and work is underway to modernize a bull bar, which has three stalls.
To help with their transition into their new home, two of Utah’s Hogle Zoo elephant keepers will stay at the Kansas City Zoo and Aquarium for three to six months.
“We are thrilled to welcome these new elephants to Kansas City,” said Kansas City Zoo and Aquarium Executive Director and CEO Sean Putney. “I am proud of the time and resources that have been put into this move to ensure the highest level of animal care and wellbeing.”
It will be a minute before Christie and Zuri join the rest of the herd, however, according to Utah’s Hogle Zoo. The two Utah elephants are undergoing a “quarantine period” to give them time to acclimate to their new home and protect the health of all elephants involved. The herd won’t have to wait long for introductions, however. Zoo staff said the current herd will be able to see, hear, and smell the two new elephants right away. Full physical introductions and integration into the herd will begin once veterinary health and animal care teams feel it’s appropriate.
Utah Hogle Zoo said the Kansas City Zoo and Aquarium has cared for African elephants since the 1920s and currently has eight full-time elephant care staff.
“Their senior keeper staff have been working with elephants for decades and have been getting to know Christie and Zuri through visits to Utah this summer,” said Hogle Zoo officials in a press release. “Zookeeper and vet staff from both zoos traveled with the elephant pair.”
As for what will take the place of the elephants at Utah’s Hogle Zoo, Lund said to stay tuned.
“Each new animal we have at the zoo creates a new educational opportunity and awareness of how we can help their species,” said Lund. “Decisions regarding what species the zoo will have in the future will be announced soon, and are being guided by what is best for animal wellbeing, guest experience, and the most effective way to contribute to saving wildlife.”