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:Also according to the Wichita Eagle:
▪ 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.”
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.