A third female Asian elephant, Karen, has joined the group at the San Antonio Zoo this week. The 47-year-old elephant came to San Antonio from the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida and now shares the elephant enclosure with Lucky, 56, and Nicole, 40, who also lived at the center before moving to the zoo. Zoo officials have officially named the trio "The Golden Girls."
In a news release, San Antonio Zoo Executive Director and CEO Tim Morrow said Karen is transitioning well into her new environment.
“Lucky and Nicole have enjoyed exploring the recent expansion and improvements to the elephant habitat, including the expanded pool with beach entry, new grass, sand and added shade,” Morrow stated. “We are confident Karen will enjoy her new herd and home as well.”
Lucky is the subject of an ongoing Animal Legal Defense Fund lawsuit that accuses the San Antonio Zoo of violating the Endangered Species Act by keeping her in unsuitable living conditions, which negatively affects her emotional and physical well-being.
Zoo officials deny any wrongdoing. Karen's arrival is yet another step forward in the zoo's commitment to elephant conservation, Morrow stated. "We have the unique opportunity and, we believe the obligation, to share these magnificent animals with the public, and to educate people about the Asian elephant’s challenges in the wild, as we continue our work to save them – and other species – from extinction."
The San Antonio Zoo is looking forward to educating the public on these elephants, Morrow elaborated in a phone interview with the Rivard Report.
"Based on our attendance numbers, San Antonio has been falling in love with us all over again," he said. "We hope to educate more of the public on caring for endangered animals and, specifically, for aging Indian elephants."
The Zoo set its record-high attendance this summer, attracting 1.2 million visitors in the past 12 months. After a series of expansion and improvement projects to accommodate larger crowds, the Zoo made a multi-year deal with Coca-Cola to be the exclusive non-alcoholic beverage provider. This is all part of Morrow's master planning process to utilize new resources and expand into unused properties.
Top Image: Lucky, Nicole, and Karen get acquainted at the San Antonio Zoo. Photo Courtesy of the San Antonio Zoo