African Elephants

African Elephants!
Mara and 71 and Lulu!

Mara and 71

THE AFRICAN ELEPHANTS AT ARK 2000 71, Mara and Lulu are spending most of their time grazing on the tall grass. Occasionally 71 and Mara climb over the hill for a foray into the brush leaving Lulu behind. When they return, the rumbles and greetings seem excessive for such a short separation. The three usually remain butted up to one another inside the barn and out in the habitat with 71 overseeing the interaction. After two years, the three elephants have established their pecking order and Lulu, who remains at the bottom despite her age, seems content with the arrangement. Each one is an individual with distinct preferences in food, environment and companions so eliciting harmonious relationships within the group is considered a major achievement. African elephants are the drama queens of the species, reacting physically, vocally and emotionally to the slightest disruption of their daily routine. Asian elephants are stoics who react less dramatically to new experiences. When Winky and Wanda arrived from Detroit, Minnie, Rebecca and Annie quietly scanned the new arrivals with their trunks, made a few peremptory rumbles, urinated and casually resumed their daily routine. When a new elephant arrives in the African barn, the noise is deafening; roaring, trumpeting and deep rumbles reverberate through the barn as 71 and Mara kneel, spin and charge around the stalls, ears and tails straight out, urinating and defecating, elaborately demonstrating the ritual of greeting that is displayed in every meeting of their wild cousins. We will soon have the opportunity to witness and record this drama as we welcome Ruby, a 45 year old African elephant from the Los Angeles Zoo, who will be retiring to ARK 2000 this month. This time, Lulu, our 40 year old African elephant from San Francisco Zoo, will be participating in the welcome wagon, so the extravaganza should reach giant proportions. The coming months will be interesting for all of us as we initiate the newest PAWS elephant into the African elephant social group, introducing her first to 71, the leader. Ruby seems to share Mara’s happy attitude and playful spirit, so we think she will adapt readily, but elephants are never predictable and past experiences and relationships can trigger aberrant behavior. Whatever happens, eventually Ruby, like Lulu, will find her spot in the hierarchy, wandering over the hills and browsing in the brush with whichever companion she chooses.

Mara and 71 Browsing in the hills of San Andreas.

Lots of hills, lots of Browse!





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