The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden received an early Christmas gift this week. It expanded its new elephant habitat with the addition of Rex, an Asian elephant.
Rex arrived on Tuesday, December 13 and joins the zoo's two adult female elephants Asha and Chandra and 8-month-old female Malee. This addition brings the zoo's Asian elephant herd to four.
Rex was born in India in approximately 1968 and is estimated to be 43-years-old. Weighing in at 8,000 pounds, the male Asian elephant comes to the Zoo from Canada's African Lion Safari. Zoo officials say as with all new animals at the zoo, Rex will be in quarantine for at least a month before being viewed by guests and introduced to the other elephants.
"We are very excited about Rex's arrival," said Dwight Scott, Oklahoma City Zoo Executive Director/CEO. "We have been working with the Asian Elephant Species Survival Plan (SSP) through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to find a compatible bull to breed with our adult female elephants and Rex was recommended. In time, we hope to see our herd grow."
Asian elephants are critically endangered with an estimated 38,000 to 51,000 remaining in the wild.
Rex's 1,500 mile trek to Oklahoma from Canada was an expensive one. The transportation costs could run as high as $10,000.00. The Oklahoma Zoological Society along with Bank of Oklahoma have partnered to raise money for his transportation costs.