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Free range elephants ?!

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Nigel, 24 Jan 2004.

  1. Nigel

    Nigel Well-Known Member

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    Well , almost . Let me explain .
    Auckland zoo has 2 female Asian elephants . As elephants are very intelligent animals , they will get bored if there is no stimulation . Elephants also tend to roam over huge areas -- which is not possible , even with their new enclosure .
    So the elephant keepers try and keep them busy for most of the day .
    The elephants are sometimes used to help out with heavy lifting/pulling jobs for any reconstruction projects in the zoo , and are often taken to an off public site of the zoo where they can browse , or do whatever they want in the woodland .
    But once or twice each day , the keepers take them for a walk in the zoo -- using the same paths that people are using at the same time . The walk route and times vary so as to not breed familiarity for the elephants . The elephants are not chained or shackled in any way . The keepers have a much bigger job keeping the public at bay than dealing with the elephants !
    You can imagine many a surprised visitor at Auckland zoo .

    Does anyone know of any other zoo that does this ? :eek:
     
  2. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Administrator Staff Member

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    Actually, Adelaide Zoo did this once upon a time - they also gave rides to children on the baby elephants. I figure it was seen as inappropriate and so the practice was stopped a while back.

    I have seen the elephants being led around Auckland Zoo - quite a spectacle !

    I do seem to recall something simlar elsewhere - doesn't Melbourne Zoo do something like this ? Ruby ?
     
  3. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    yep.

    Melbourne zoo also walk their female elephant, mek keppah around the zoo at various times during the day. however, bong su, the bull elephant is only handled using the protective contact method as males can be too unpredictable. i recently visited taronga zoo and spoke to a keeper there (among other things) about their elephants. i was told that unfortunately both the 40-something burma and heman are ex-circus elephants and very mentally disturbed animals. the zoo has tried on various occasions to get the elephants to leave the enclosure during closing hours but the animals are far too stressed by the experience and insist on returning to their "concrete hell-hole", as he put it. apparently even giving the animals enrichment play-things such as sand reguarly turns sour when the elephants begin throwing the dirt at the zoo visitors. by comparison, i know melbournes elephants are quite healthy both mentally and physically. both are around 30 and came to the zoo from malaysia as babies in the 70's. supprisingly, despite so many years in an enclosure even worse than tarongas, now the pair are in a new exhibit they have begun to display many behavioural traits only seen in content elephants in stress-free environments. these include sleeping lying down in the sand (i often find the male enjoying an afternoon nap when i visit), playing with eachother and trumpeting. that's right, the elephants had never trumpeted before they were placed in their new exhibit, whereby on the first day they ran into their new mud wallow, threw themselves around and trumpeted together. apparently the whole experience of changing exhibits went without a hitch for both elephants which is a real credit to the years of re-training the keepers gave them in preperation. i am told that due to this need for preparation and training, tarongas routine-loving elephants will not be making the new exhibit home and instead will be joining the 3 female african elephants at dubbo. i wonder how they'll handle that!

    it is my opinion that although i believe very much that zoos on the right track with re-training their elephants so as to offer them a range of new activites (such as supervised walks), they totally missed the mark in deciding on keeping them in city zoos. imagine how wonderful the walks would be if the elephants could walk for kilometers through farmland around an open range zoo!!

    people would love it too!
     
  4. Nigel

    Nigel Well-Known Member

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    elephants

    I have just only read this view from Patrick -- thanks for your very interesting
    input in this thread . I am pleased that Melbournes elephants are showing encouraging signs of contentment . I guess that it shows how much human impact ( both positive and negative ) can have on elephants , especially when you referred to Taronga Parks elephants as a comparison .
    I do agree that elephants are more suited to open range zoos though .
    I was surprised at the strange reasoning that Melbourne Zoo gives when trying to defend its decision to continue to house elephants , and yet the zoo hasnt expanded in area to allow for this ....

    If anyone is interested in a city zoo that has had alot of success with elephant husbandry and breeding , check out Portland Zoo in Oregon USA
    www.oregonzoo.org should get you to their site .
     
  5. Cat-Man

    Cat-Man Well-Known Member

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    sorry to bump this really old thread, whipsnade, with it's massive paddock (the largest for asians in the uk) does this and both ZSL's London Zoo And The Bristol Zoo Gardens used to do this before the end of there Elephant eras
     
    Last edited: 28 Jul 2009
  6. Yassa

    Yassa Well-Known Member

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    London and Bristol no longer have elephants (since a couple of years, actually). I think the expression of "free-ranging elephants" does not describe those walks properly, because the elephants are certainly never free to wonder where they want, but kept under strict control by their keepers, usually walking trunk-to-tail like in the circus. That`s not my understanding of free-ranging and I have my doubts if it is as beneficial to the elephants as most of you believe.
     
  7. Cat-Man

    Cat-Man Well-Known Member

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    sorry i new that, just mis typed post
     
  8. James27

    James27 Well-Known Member

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    I think when Wendy and Christina arrived at Bristol, the elephant house didn't have a paddock, as their previous elephant's only access outside was to give rides. Before their paddock (now gorilla island) was built, I'm sure that they were displayed by simply being walked around the zoo all day, and sometimes out onto the downs. So they were kind of "Free range" if you will, as to begin with they never had their own enclosure.
     
  9. Meaghan Edwards

    Meaghan Edwards Well-Known Member

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    When I first saw the title of this thread, I imagined elephants running around the zoo like peafowl do in some places :D
     
  10. kbaker116

    kbaker116 Well-Known Member

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    African Lion Safari in Cambridge Ontario parades its elephant herd through the zoo and ending at a large lake allowing them to swim. Also like Auckland they get to browse in the woods.
     
  11. Jarkari

    Jarkari Well-Known Member

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    Africans at TWPZ are walked out back before the zoo opens.