Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's three African elephants arrived safely yesterday at the Columbus Zoo, and they're adapting very well to their new surroundings.
Elephants Moshi, Jo and Martika will be staying in Columbus during construction of the new African Elephant Crossing habitat at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The elephants are scheduled to return to Cleveland before their expanded exhibit opens to the public in 2011.
The elephants were transported to Columbus in a specially equipped trailer and accompanied by two of their keepers, a Zoo veterinarian and the animal-care manager. Two of the elephants' long-time keepers in Cleveland will care for the elephants in Columbus for the duration of their stay.
Jo, who is 41 years old and weighs 9,010 pounds, and Martika, who is 23 years old and 8,620 pounds, traveled together to Columbus in the morning. Moshi, who is 32 years old and weighs 8,600 pounds, was transported in the evening.
"We already miss our elephants, but we're doing this so we can build them the best home possible here in Cleveland," said Zoo Director Steve Taylor. "It helps to know that the elephants will be with two of their keepers from Cleveland while they're in Columbus, and it's only a two-hour drive so people can visit them pretty easily."
Moshi, Jo and Martika will be off public exhibit for a while so they have time to acclimate to their new surroundings at the Columbus Zoo's Pachyderm Building, which also is home to four Asian elephants. The two herds will remain separate, but the elephants will be able to see each other.
All three elephants were born in Africa and arrived in Cleveland from other zoos in 1997. Martika previously lived at the Erie Zoo, and Moshi and Jo previously lived at the Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon.
Construction will start very soon on the new African Elephant Crossing at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The expanded habitat will sit on 5 acres -- more than quadrupling the amount of space the Zoo currently dedicates to elephants -- and include two sprawling yards for roaming and foraging, large ponds, expanded sleeping quarters, a heated outdoor range and an education village.
Scheduled to open in 2011, African Elephant Crossing will be able to house a multi-generational herd of up to 10 elephants at a time, including at least one bull elephant and eventually calves. The exhibit also will house meerkats, naked mole rats, an African rock python and a spectacular collection of colorful birds.
As the Zoo's largest capital project since the opening of The RainForest in 1992, African Elephant Crossing's $25 million cost is being funded equally by Cleveland Metroparks and the Cleveland Zoological Society.
While construction of African Elephant Crossing creates a temporary absence of elephants in Northeast Ohio, it represents a long-term investment in the Zoo's commitment to improving the future for endangered elephants.
To learn more about African Elephant Crossing, visit clemetzoo.com/elephants, or call (216) 661-6500.