Thursday, April 28, 2016

The new elephants at the Sedgwick County Zoo

Those of you who live in the US, and watch the weather channel or get updates from your computer, but were not familiar with where Wichita, KS is, we made the news all Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning with our severe weather that simply wouldn't let up.  One storm would pass, then another would arrive.  One local weatherman called it "chasing."  It's where one storm develops, then another chases after it.  That's what happened to us.  Much of Wichita had a great deal of clean-up to attend to before the next round of thunderstorms, high winds, and potential for tornadoes occurs later today.

Before we begin, I want to thank Fran Hopkins, who apparently doesn't have a blog, for finding the rhino yesterday.  Guess I DID get a picture of it!

I purposely saved the images of the new elephant exhibit until today.  What do Dallas, TX, Omaha, NE, and Wichita, KS have in common?   They all have zoos.  Accredited zoos.  But more important, they have zoos that were part of a controversial decision made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in January to bring 17 elephants from Swaziland, Africa to these zoos.

Originally the Sedgwick Co Zoo had two elephants, both female, but one died just as plans to acquire several new elephants as part of a conservation project between the U.S. and Swaziland were under way.

Stephanie was the only elephant at the zoo when this project began (Photo courtesy KSN news). 

It was imperative that elephants from the drought stricken Zambezi River in Swaziland be relocated due to elephants destroying ancient trees and consuming vegetation faster than it could naturally regenerate.  Drought conditions, overpopulation, and endangered rhinos were given as reasons to apply for these animals.  It was clear the elephants were throwing area resources out of balance, which endangered not just the rhinos, but other mammal and bird species as well.  According to Room for Rhinos:
Though technically classified as “wild,” elephants are managed and protected inside two wildlife parks. Swaziland’s elephants have spent their entire life living in managed and protected care at two of the three privately managed, non-profit wildlife parks in Swaziland.
Some conservationists, specifically the Friends of Animals, didn't like the idea and tried to block the elephants' entry to the U.S., but a U.S. district judge cleared the way for their entry.

This is Stephanie in late February in the new splash pool waiting for the other elephants to arrive (Photo courtesy of the Sedgwick County Zoo or SCZ).

Lo and behold, on March 11, the elephants made it to Dallas, where five were unloaded before traveling to Wichita, where we got six.  Then it was on to Omaha with the final six.

Three of the five females are shown drinking at the Sedgwick County Zoo (Photo courtesy of SCZ).  According to The Wichita Eagle:
Here are the six new zoo residents, according to a zoo news release:
▪ Simunye (pronounced sim-un-ya): An 18- to 20-year-old female whose name means “we are one.”
▪ Titan: A 6- to 7-year-old male whose name means “defender.” He’s the son of Simunye.
▪ Arusi (uh-ROO-see): A 6- to 7-year-old female elephant whose name means “the sun” or “born at the wedding time.”
▪ Zuberi (zuw-Beh-Riy): A 7- to 8-year-old female whose name means “strong.”
▪ Xolani (zo-Lani): A 6- to 7-year old female whose name means “peace.”
▪ Talia (ta-lia): A 6- to 7-year old female whose name means “dew of heaven.”
Also according to the Wichita Eagle:
Elephant exhibit opens May 27, with member preview May 11-13

Although there was no way to see the elephants the day we went to the zoo, they are now housed in “The elephants of the Zambezi River Valley” exhibit which will be unveiled on Memorial Day (end of May).

This is an aerial concept drawing of the future site as shown on Zoo Nation.

According to Zoo Nation:
While it may not boast the title of being the country’s largest elephant exhibit (in fact, it will be the third largest), one superlative the zoo can claim title to will be the world’s largest elephant pool, at 550,000 gallons in volume and covering 13,000 square feet.
And here is the concept photo to show it, too (also by Zoo Nation).

This is a photo of the habitat where the elephants are kept (Photo by SCZ). 

It was fun to see the "before" photos,
and will be even more fun once the elephants are in place.

Sally, who is a zoo member, read that the animals are being kept apart at the moment so they can get used to each others' smells.   According to information put out by SCZ,
All six of the elephants (one male and five females) have settled in nicely. They are all eating and drinking well. The keeper staff has also been providing them tree branches and logs, in addition to their regular diet. The elephants are really gobbling them up! They strip the bark off the larger logs and snack on the small branches too! 

The new residents are already transferring from one part of the barn to the other with ease.
The tram didn't provide a very good view,

but thanks to the drawings shown on Zoo Nation,

I can begin to envision what the area will look like.

Zoo Nation's concept drawings and SCZ photos are interspersed with my own photos.

I'm fairly certain the next time I take photos,

this area will have once again changed drastically.

Thanks for joining me today for this look ahead at the new elephant exhibit that will soon open at the Sedgwick Co. Zoo.

16 thoughtful remarks:

Valerie-Jael said...

Great idea to bring the elephants to new quarters and help Swaziland at the same time. I know a lot of people are against such things, but the zoos these days are so good and treat their animals really well, and safe animal populations from dying out. Thanks for sharing the photos and info. I am sure you will visit them soon! By the way, the pigeons here are wood pigeons, not the town ones - they are much larger, and also not diseased. But just as greedy! Have a lovely day, hugs, Valerie

froebelsternchen Susi said...

Fantastic Impressions !

Thanks a lot for sharing all this dear Elizabeth!
oxo Susi

pearshapedcrafting said...

Oh Elizabeth! Those elephants are going to have so much fun in that pool! I hope that you are not sloshing around so much - hope you have plenty of supplies in! Do take care! Hugs, Chrisx

Meggymay said...

Conservation is a wonderful thing, to keep these animals in safety for future generations. Love the photos, the elephants will have a good home.
Yvonne xx

My name is Erika. said...

Did I miss if those elephants were from the same family? I wonder how easy their adjustment is? But, at least they won't be shot and killed just for their ivory and they will have a nice safe life. It looks like they will have a great big area to live in too. There is such a battle for space for these animals in Africa and with poaching, it is such a hard thing to say not to bring them to the zoos here. I think without zoos a lot of our world is going to be large mammal free in not so many years. There just isn't enough space for them and the big populations of people. Plus for some animals you get people like the Chinese (I'm not bashing them) but they want things like rhino horn for medicine, which is the same material as our fingernails, pushing animal life to extinction. Love your post today. I hope the elephants have a successful transition. I hope you are going to see them once the nex exhibit opens. Hugs-Erika

Jeanie said...

Elephants are such amazing animals -- it hurts to see them destroyed because of their ivory. Your photos are wonderful and the exhibit looks terrific. It will be fun to see how it lays out over time -- successfully, I think!

Oh, and on another note -- please don't ever think on our cork popper posts that we really KNOW anything about wine -- except what we like! None of us are "experts" -- just tasters who are beginning to articulate (often through humor) why we like what we like. And for all of us it is different! I so loved your comment and appreciated your visit to the Gypsy!

My name is Erika. said...

You caught me just before I leave. How cool. The only bad thing I can think about good zoos (like this one and many others) is that they can end up with so little genetic variety that it doesn't make the species any more viable for survival in the long run. One disease they are all susceptible too and they are all gone. BUT I think that zoos have really made headway and having that information and I think they are working hard to move past all that. Anyhow I've got to run. I have a 2 hour drive ahead of me, both directions today. :)

Divers and Sundry said...

Because Tennessee has an elephant sanctuary, I have very mixed feelings about elephants (especially males) in zoos.... That said, if they have to be in a zoo this exhibit space looks wonderful! The before and after pictures are striking!

Linda Kunsman said...

It does look like a well run and beautiful zoo and the efforts to allow a species to thrive is all good too. My only hope is that these animals are treated well and with the same respect any human would deserve.
I was not aware of all that harsh weather your area received. I do hope there wasn't to much damage and no lives lost. That must have been pretty disconcerting to say the least.

Rita said...

Wow! That will be really great to see when it opens. Too bad they couldn't have kept together a natural family group. Sounds like it's a partial group, though. Really fascinating. I just hope the elephants are happy there. :)

Sandra Cox said...

This sounds like a lovely place for the elephants. I'm so glad.
Sounds like you acclimate them the same way you do cats:)
Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed this.

AiyanaKalyna said...

This is my favorite post of all. I am a big elephant lover and conservationist for them. I can say proudly that I have helped with bills to protect these beautiful and lovely animals who are so dear to my heart. I am really happy the judge allowed elephants to be protected at the zoos. Yes, they were very well protected and loved were they where. Elephant poaching is on the rise again. We need to protect the numbers so these beautiful unique angels will never go extinct. I don't have soap boxes. :) I guess this is my one. As a Wichita zoo lover I know not only will they be protected but we should see babies soon too. I really love the pictures. Thank you so much for sharing. Now, I have a very big reason to come and visit Wichita. My family will be so mad I am coming to see elephants, lol. I started a blog. I am still working on it. I am very green about using blogspot. I will have my first post up next week so I won't be so much a stranger. I hope you are safe and your home didn't receive too much damage.

dawn said...

HELLO HELLO Elizabeth!!! I've missed you and your blog so much! I'm still stuck with my computer issues but wanted to come by and wish you a belated HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I know it was last Friday and Earth Day, how could anyone forget the two :)
Hope it was a good day for you and am wishing you all the joy, love, peace into this new year for you!!
What a gorgeous zoo this is, I love elephants so it was so fun to see these pictures. How awful your weather was, so glad your ok and hope you stay safe!
We have crazy winter/spring/fall/summer weather going on here, each day is like a differnet season, sometimes I just have to laugh about it so I don't cry, lol.
Everyone is doing good, had a little scare with Sam but all is ok now. I see teacups everywhere and related things/words that remind me of you :)
Take care, love and hugs

Dianne said...

Wonderful pics of the elephants! Since they are herd animals, it will be so much better for them...hope you are safe and the weather is calming down!

Valerie-Jael said...

Of course you can borrow any photos you want! Hugs, Valerie

Lisa Graham Art said...

Great post Elizabeth! I did not know all the details you shared here and I live here! LOL. So excited about this exhibit! One of my friends from the painting class I go to is painting a large mixed media elephant for Zoobilee and it's beautiful!

Great photos!