Five elephants arrived from San Diego Zoo Safari Park in February, 2012. Mabu is a mature male; Semba and Lungile are mature females. Punga (son of Mabu and Semba) was born in 2007, and Sundzu (son of Mabu and Semba) was born in 2010. A baby female elephant, Nandi (daughter of Mabu and Semba), the first born in Arizona, was born at 10:55 p.m. on August 20, 2014.
In September, 2016, Mabu returned to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for possible breeding. This change mimics what might happen in a wild herd of elephants–males frequently move between herds to breed with different females. For elephants in human care, it’s important to maintain as much genetic diversity as possible; Mabu’s move is intended to increase the representation of his genes in different herds.
This seven acre exhibit allows guests to watch elephants explore, play, and interact with each other as they would in the wild. The exhibit was carefully planned with lots of opportunities for the elephants to use their senses. Do you see the elephants sticking their trunks into holes in the outer exhibit wall? That’s because those holes are filled with treats place by Keepers each morning. Two mud pits provide a great place for the herd to cool off and play, and a 90,000 gallon pool allows even the largest male elephant to submerge himself, using his trunk as a snorkel! The yard is divided into two sections; Keepers shift elephants back and forth according to their care and training schedules. Sometimes the herd can roam the entire exhibit; at other times elephants are moved to one side or the other while Keepers access the empty yard to refresh browse and treats. The elephants are also called into the barn periodically for training sessions and pedicures; if you don’t see the elephants when you first arrive, take some time to explore the educational features along the path. You’ll learn more about the Zoo’s elephants, and how you can help elephants in the wild.
Check the event board in the front plaza when you arrive, there may be an opportunity to catch a session with an Elephant Keeper at the training wall in the pavilion of the Jim Click Elephant Care Center. Learn how Keepers care for these intelligent animals, and see an elephant up close!
If you can’t make it to the Zoo, CHECK OUT THE ELEPHANT CAM!