IN PICS: Joburg Zoo ecstatic after arrival of ‘two tonnes of fun’

The 'two tons' of fun getting familiar with their new surroundings. Photo: Ashtyn Mackenzie

The 'two tons' of fun getting familiar with their new surroundings. Photo: Ashtyn Mackenzie

Two African elephants from the Eastern Cape are settling into their new surroundings at the zoo.

After a 15-hour long journey from the Eastern Cape, two new elephants arrived in the early hours of Thursday morning at the Johannesburg Zoo, Rosebank Killarney Gazette reports.

A statement released by Joburg City Parks and Zoo said: “The two healthy pachyderms secured a clean bill of health and arrived at the zoo with a veterinary doctor and their keeper on Thursday, 13 June. The mature male and female will be allowed to get accustomed to their surroundings before they make their public debut in typical ‘Jozi style’. ”

Joburg Zoo unloads the elephants as they arrive. Photo: Ashtyn Mackenzie

She added that Joburg Zoo could only acquire captive-bred elephants and in line with the code of ethics of World Association of Zoos and Aquaria, the Joburg Zoo ensured that the new elephants were not wild elephants.

ALSO READ: Joburg Zoo has no intention of moving Lammie the elephant

The ‘two tonnes of fun’ become familiar with their new surroundings. Photo: Ashtyn Mackenzie

Lammie turns 40 years old on August 12, which coincidences with World Elephant Day. The zoo said they went through a thorough and long process to acquire the permits for the two elephants.

First pictures of the new elephants are captured by Rosebank Killarney Gazette editor. Photo: Ashtyn Mackenzie

Photo: Ashtyn Mackenzie

According to the statement, the plans set in place include: “An elephant management plan that is compliant to best management practices set by the Gauteng department of agriculture and rural development, and to ensuring it is compliant with the Code of Ethics and the five Freedoms of Animal Welfare, adopted for ‘good zoos’ by the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria.”

The new arrivals will now form part of a Big7 offering at Joburg Zoo, which is actively promoting conservation and environmental education.

MMC for community development Councillor Nonhlanhla Sifumba said: “This is not about gate-takings, but about deepening our understanding of the importance of the ecology found on our planet and to ensure that every child gets to see and hear the trumpeting of the African elephant in Africa.”

A caregiver at Joburg Zoo feeds one of the new arrivals. Photo: Ashtyn Mackenzie

The heated topic of “space” for elephants to roam around was also addressed by Sifumba saying it was not the only critical issue, other issues such as poachers and dwindling areas to forage due to the threat of growing urbanisation and changing weather conditions were a reality.

She added that the caregivers, medical care, and nutritional support of the new arrivals were key as they would now call the Joburg Zoo their new home.

The Free Lammie saga

The Rosebank Killarney Gazette’s journalist Sarah Koning followed this story extensively from the celebration of Lammie’s 39th birthday to the death of her companion Kinkel.

Lammie’s previous companion, Kinkel, died in September 2018, sparking protests worldwide requesting that she be moved to an elephant sanctuary, where she could be free.

Organisations including the National Council of SPCAs, Ban Animal Trading, Humane Society South Africa and a number of other animal rights groups and elephant experts have signed petitions, arranged protests, and campaigned for Lammie’s release, but to no avail.

Protesters from Ban Animal Trading conduct a silent picket outside Lammie’s enclosure at the Joburg Zoo. Photo: Sarah Koning

As reported in numerous articles, protesters believe that the captive environment at the zoo is detrimental to Lammie’s well-being, particularly since elephants are social animals. They also cited the living conditions at the zoo as being small and unstimulating.

Johannesburg Zoo has responded to these protests by saying that Lammie was coping well following Kinkel’s death and noted her bonds with her elephant keepers and the fact that she would not survive in the wild, to defend their decision to keep her at the zoo.

On January 24, the Johannesburg Zoo announced that they were assessing the situation regarding Lammie and had begun engaging with relevant authorities to obtain in-principle support to acquire a companion for her. Read more here.

Spokesperson for Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo Jenny Moodley had stated that the acquisition of the new elephant would be subject to the zoo finalising their plan to increase the size of the elephant enclosure to include a swimming dam with mud-bathing and sand-wallowing areas.

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