Zoo moves elephants to breed

Wednesday, June 11th 2008, 1:31 pm
By: News 9

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

Almost ten years since they first arrived at the Oklahoma City Zoo, elephants Asha and Chandra are moving out.

But the loss of the zoo's two popular Asian elephants will only be temporary and when they do return, they may not be alone.

The Oklahoma City Zoo's pachyderm exhibit is the first stop for many zoo-goers; many making a point of checking out the endangered Indian rhinos there, but the biggest pachyderm attraction are the zoo's two female Indian elephants.

Asha, 13-years-old, and Chandra, 12-years-old, are still kids, but they weigh about three tons each and are still growing, thanks to their mammoth daily food intake.

The girls won't be full-grown for another ten years, but they're ready to breed now, and under the Species Survival Plan, it's been recommended that they breed with a bull named Sneezy, who just happens to live up the turnpike.

"So, we're sending them up the road to Tulsa so they can be bred with Sneezy, and then brought back here and have their babies here," Interim Zoo Director Brian Aucone said.

Zoo officials said when they do return, hopefully pregnant, in about two years, they'll return to brand new digs; a new $21 million Asia exhibit.

"We have a whole group of animals that will be in this new exhibit representing Asia, elephants being the biggest portion and the core of that," Aucone said.

Zoo officials haven't announced the exact date the elephants will be leaving, but say it will be this month.