Elephants on the Move…
Following a comprehensive review, Twycross Zoo has announced today (1st March 2017) that it will find a new home for its all-female herd of Asian elephants, which will allow the animals to breed and help ensure the long-term survival of this endangered species.
Twycross Zoo is working in conjunction with European Endangered Species Breeding Programmes (EEP) to arrange the transfer and the receiving zoo and timescales will be announced as plans progress.
Through the zoo’s Strategic Animal Collection Planning and its work alongside the EEP, Twycross Zoo regularly assesses the species in its care and their potential for breeding.
Asian elephants are endangered in the wild, where they are threatened by illegal hunting and habitat destruction. Captive breeding of this endangered species by zoos helps to ensure that there are genetically healthy, self-sustaining populations which can act as insurance against the possible future loss of wild populations.
Elephant Move FAQs
Thank you for your feedback regarding our decision to find a new home for our all-female herd of Asian elephants.
Please be assured that this decision was only taken after a comprehensive assessment of the issue over a lengthy period of time.
We will be sad to see the elephants leave, but we believe that what we are planning is in the best interests of the elephants and ultimately that must guide our decision-making.
Below we have provided further information which we hope will help you better understand the decision that we have made…
When are they going?
At the earliest it will be the last quarter of 2017. This will depend on agreeing the practical arrangements with the receiving zoo and also the training process and how long it takes the elephants to become comfortable in their transport crates.
Where are they going?
We do not know yet as we are still working with the European Breeding Programme Coordinator to find a new home somewhere in Europe.
Do you get to choose where they go?
Yes, we will work very closely with the breeding programme coordinator to choose their new home. Twycross Animal Managers will also go to the zoo before the transfer to work with the new team that will care for our elephants.
Why has this decision been made only now?
We regularly assess the animals in our care and their potential for breeding through our Strategic Animal Collection Planning, in conjunction with European Endangered Species Breeding Programmes. We were aware of the reproductive potential of our two females and considered all available options which would allow them to breed before taking this decision with the support of our Trustees.
Why not bring a male elephant in?
Twycross Zoo does not have the facilities or expertise to manage adult bull elephants; which are larger, more powerful and sometimes more aggressive than females.
Why can’t you artificially inseminate them?
Whilst artificial insemination is a suitable method for some individuals in certain situations, breeding within a strong social structure, with males present, is the preferred option.
Why can’t Twycross Zoo bring in a herd of elderly elephants instead of going out of elephants completely?
Elderly elephants are an important part of a natural mixed herd structure, so zoos are moving away from keeping elderly elephants separately, and towards keeping them within herds for the duration of their life.
Will the herd stay together?
Yes, we are working with the European Breeding Programme Coordinator to find a new home somewhere in Europe and only looking at zoos which have the necessary space to accommodate all our four females to ensure their social ties remain intact.
How will you ensure the transfer will not be too stressful for the elephants?
Our management and experienced staff are working very hard to train and prepare the animals for a smooth transfer. The elephants are trained using positive reinforcement, which makes the training process a fun and engaging situation for the herd.
Why are you closing down the enclosure?
We’re not. The space will be developed as part of our development plan and in the short-term will become home to new species. We are working on plans at the moment to use it wisely for other endangered species.
Why wasn’t this decision reached prior to revamping the enclosure?
The enclosure was modified in 2010 at which point in time there were no plans to find new home for our elephants and our priority was to provide the best possible facility for the herd. The decision was only reached in the past 12 months during which we carried out a comprehensive assessment of the situation. As part of this process we are considering the best use of this enclosure, once the elephants have moved to another zoo.
What’s going to replace them?
The space taken up by the elephant enclosure is a large and important location, so we are working up plans at the moment to use it wisely for other endangered species. We will update everyone when things are confirmed later in the year.
What other animals can visitors see at the zoo?
We have over 150 different species, with 30% of those being different types of endangered monkeys and apes including orangutans, the UK’s only bonobos and lemurs; and the other 70% being a range of carnivores, including snow leopards and meerkats; large mammals, such as giraffes and zebra; birds, including penguins and lorikeets; reptiles, including our giant tortoises; and invertebrates, such as the wide range housed in Butterfly Forest.
What will be the financial impact of this decision?
The decision-making process included reviewing the financial implications as part of our ongoing business planning. The Executive Team and the Trustees are confident that this will not have a detrimental impact on the long-term financial stability of the zoo.
Where can I find out more information about this?
We will keep our visitors and supporters informed as we go through the training process and the final decision-making about the elephants’ new home via our website, social media and external communications.
ITV news report…
Twycross Zoo’s Asian elephants are on the move: ITV news report by Yasmin Bodalbhai, and interview with Dr. Charlotte Macdonald, Director of Life Sciences at Twycross Zoo >> http://bit.ly/TZ-Elephants-ITV > Twycross Zoo’s Asian elephants are on the move
Again, thank you for your feedback