With Project Elephant nearing completion, keepers have begun working with Kate, our 48 year old Asian Elephant, to get her ready for her big move. Regular visitors to the zoo may have noticed a rather large, green new addition to the existing elephant paddock.
As you can imagine, moving a 4 tonne elephant is no easy task. This is the start of a long process for Kate and her keepers and the crate has been delivered early to allow Kate to get used to it. Her keepers have begun placing browse in the crate, to allow Kate to see it as a positive thing, they will then begin training her to walk in and out of the crate.
As we operate a policy of Protected Contact – whereby keepers and elephants do not share the same space – this is the only way we can transport Kate to her new home, with the emphasis being on maintaining both her safety and that of our staff.
We know you’ll all want to know when she’ll be moving, and the honest answer is that we just don’t know. From here on we’ll be led by Kate. The build is almost finished but we’re now working to Kate’s timescale and we will not be moving her before she lets us know she’s ready.
We’re still in ongoing discussions with the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) about where any new elephants may come from. Various options for a settled, probably single family, group from another zoo or safari park in the UK or Europe are being considered, but as yet no final decisions have been made.
Our current plan is to open Project Elephant in summer 2017 with Kate as the very first resident. While she settles into her new environment, work will of course be ongoing with the EEP to source new elephants, who will be joining Kate in due course.
As soon as we have a date for the opening, we’ll be announcing it here and across the zoo’s website and Facebook pages, so watch this space!!