London Zoo's elephants have packed their trunks and moved to Whipsnade Wild Animal Park
Wednesday 5 December 2001
Yesterday, 4 December 2001, The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) moved its elephants, Mya, Layang Layang and Dilberta from London Zoo to Whipsnade Wild Animal Park to join bull elephant, Emmett and the Park's three females - two of which are pregnant.
The complex move, which started in the early hours, continued all day until the last elephant arrived at Whipsnade early this morning. ZSL's expert staff were assisted and advised by a world-class team from the international zoo community.
Moving any large animal is a delicate operation, which involves great planning and is not without risk. Extensive preparations were made; both an independent and ZSL vet assessed the three elephants and all possible precautions were taken.
The three female Asian elephants were transported, one at a time, in a specially designed elephant truck, owned by Woburn Safari Park and sponsored by logistic operator, Christian Salvesen. The elephants were mildly sedated and leg restraints were used to keep them steady during the journey. Using voice commands, the keepers walked them into the transporter. Once loaded, a Police escort accompanied the 27 tonne vehicle for each of the three trips to Whipsnade. During the move, a ZSL veterinary team and the elephant's familiar keepers travelled with the elephants on their way to Bedfordshire.
"It's great to have all three of London Zoo's elephants at Whipsnade now that the new additional facilities are available," comments Dr Michael Dixon, Director General of The Zoological Society of London. "Moving the group will benefit their long term welfare as well as enable them to participate in the breeding programme."
Dr Dixon continues: "It was down to the team's expertise, patience and knowledge of the individual elephant's personality, that the move was a success."
The elephants are now being housed in their new inside enclosures, where they will remain until the ZSL keepers are happy that they have settled well into their new home.
A familiarisation programme is in place to ensure that the elephants' transition to their new surroundings goes as smoothly as possible. ZSL plan to hold a press event at Whipsnade as soon as the elephants have settled and an opportunity will be provided to interview key staff from the Zoological Society of London.
ZSL's PR Office
Debbie Curtis : 020 7449 6363
Joe Laing : 020 7449 6236
Peter Beatty : 020 7449 6361
Notes to Editors
- London Zoo and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park are owned by The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) registered charity no:208728
- The Zoological Society of London would like to thank not only its own team of dedicated staff but also the world class external experts, who assisted with the move:
- Scott Riddle, consultant to the move, of Riddle's Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary. An internationally recognised non-profit sanctuary for elephants, in the Ozark Mountain foothills in Arkansas, USA.
- Woburn Safari Park, Bedfordshire
- Blackpool Zoo, Lancashire
- Longleat Safari Park, Wiltshire
- West Midlands Safari Park, Dudley
- Whipsnade Wild Animal Park has been voted zoo of the year 2001 by the Good Britain Guide and Bedfordshire family attraction of the year. The Good Britain Guide is a totally independent publication and winning this award is dependent upon the visit they had.
- ZSL's elephants are part of the European Endangered Species Programme, which is a managed programme that maintains a genetically diverse breeding population.
- Asian elephants are classed as endangered and their population is in decline as a result of habitat destruction and poaching for ivory. There is also a significant threat from people/elephant conflict as elephants encroach into agricultural land.
Information about London Zoo's elephants:
23 years old
arrived in London in 1982
18 years old
arrived in London in 1985
19 years old
arrived in London in 1989
— ENDS —