Jeff Smith 8 p.m., Aug. 30
San Diego Zoo to Swap Tucson Elephant for Safari Park Herd
Handlers at Reid Park Zoo in Tucson are preparing Connie, a 42-year-old Asian elephant, for her upcoming transfer to San Diego Zoo in exchange for a herd of African elephants from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido, the Arizona Daily Star reports.
Shaba, an African elephant at Reid Park, will be introduced to the newly arriving herd, though accreditation standards do not allow mixing of African and Asian elephants in establishing a new herd. Six of the seven elephants at the zoo in Balboa Park are of the Asian variety.
Preparations for Connie’s journey largely revolve around getting the 7000-pound animal accustomed to the crate in which she’ll be traveling for up to 10 hours. To this end, trainers have placed the crate, with its ends removed, in her enclosure at Reid Park. They encourage her to enter and remain inside by offering treats such as pumpkin, watermelon, and other fruits that aren’t a part of her daily diet. All training is conducted within view of zoo visitors in Tucson.
No date is yet set for the elephant transfer. Reid Park officials say it’s dependent both on how Connie reacts to the crate training and when San Diego will be prepared for her arrival.