Zula & Tange in the Media
Pachyderms Load Up Their Trunks and Move to Tennessee
Tange and Zula have been preparing for their move from Albany, Georgia to the Sanctuary since April of 2003 when zoo director, Glenn Dobrogosz, made the decision to send the zoos two wild born elephants to “the most suitable captive environment possible”.
Tange and Zula who have spent 30 years performing for the zoo public will become the first African Elephant residents of the 2,700 acre natural habitat preserve that is currently home to eight Asian Elephants. They will be joined shortly by Flora, a retired circus elephant currently residing at the Miami Metro Zoo.
The Elephant Sanctuary located in Hohenwald, Tennessee has provided a retirement option for old, sick and needy Asian elephants for the past nine years. In 2002, inspired by their success, the Sanctuary made the decision to expand to include African Elephants.
A state-of-the-art African Elephant House and habitat was completed in December of 2003. The three new arrivals will enjoy a separate but adjacent habitat to the Asian Elephants habitat that was designed expressly for their species.
Tange and Zula’s introduction to their Elephant friendly, Eco-Friendly House and habitat was be broadcast live on the Sanctuary’s EleCam. They arrived on schedule at the Sanctuary at 3:00 pm Central Time.
The Elephant Sanctuary is a non-profit organization, licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. It is supported by public donations and has plans to fund-raise in order to pay for the land expansion, new barn, additional fencing, support facilities and the cost of transporting elephants.
For more information about how to become a member or make a donation, all (931) 796-6500 or visit the web site at www.elephants.com.
Chehaw is losing its elephants, but the park plans to obtain 170 species of animals.
Kathi Murray, who has worked with 29-year old Zula and 31-year old Tange for 15 years, is relocating with them as an elephant keeper at the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tenn.
"In one sense it'll be hard to leave family and friends, but it would be harder if it wasn't the right thing for the girls," Murray said. "I wish all elephants could go live at the sanctuary."
The Elephant Sanctuary is the only natural habitat refuge in the United States capable of safely housing elephants, Murray said.
Elephants come to the facility from zoos, circuses and private donors, and only positive reinforcement training is used with the animals, Murray said.
Currently there are eight Asian elephants at the reserve.
Zula and Tange will be the first African elephants to live in the new $1 million heated barn built at the facility, and soon will be joined by Flora, another African elephant that is boarded at the Miami Metro Zoo.
The three elephants will live separately from the Asian species and will initially have about 250 acres to roam. An expansion is underway that will give the animals up to 2,700 acres.
Murray said the animals are still in the process of being trained to step onto a transport trailer that will carry them to Tennessee.
The trailer is parked in the animals' exhibit yard and there are daily exercises with the animal keepers.
Barbara Anderson has worked with the elephants for seven years and said that sending Zula and Tange to the refuge is best for the animals' health and survival.
"Elephants have an extremely poor track record," Anderson said. "They shouldn't be kept in captivity. Park Director Glenn Dobrogosz recognizes that and that's why they're sending them to the sanctuary."
Dobrogosz said that the financial and ethical aspects of moving the elephants to a natural habitat made the relocation a sound decision.
"We would have to invest $1 million to maintain that exhibit, and I don't feel its an adequate exhibit for an elephant," Dobrogosz said. "Its a concern that people will be upset about, but (we) have to do the right thing for the animals."
The budget money freed up by the elephants' departure allows for about 220 new animals, Dobrogosz said.
Park patrons can expect to see vultures, giraffes, gazelles, giant crested porcupines and flamingos in the elephants' area.
Dougherty County- Kathi Murray is part of a team that's responsible for keeping Tanji and Zula.
"They'll have two or three hundred acres," Murray said. "They'll get to walk that 18 to 20 miles that an elephant should walk. And it'll give them the greatest chance for that 70 year life span that an elephant should have."
That could be a lot of life left for Zula, 29, and Tanji, 31.
To get to the sanctuary, the two are training to ride in a trailer for the eight hour trip. The trailer usually carries one elephant. But because it was important that the girls travel together, they modified it. Now they'll only be separated by one set of bars.
When they separate from the zoo, they'll leave behind a community and keepers who will be sad to see them go.
"Elephants in captivity need more. It's really as simple as that," said Chehaw Director Glenn Dobrogosz. "And unless someone's willing to fork out millions upon millions of dollars to do it right, we shouldn't be in that business."
So the business at hand these days, is to get Zula and Tanji ready for the big trip. And they won't be going alone."
They have me by the heart strings," Murray said. "They can get me do to whatever they want me to do. They have me well-trained."
So well-trained, that she'll be the one keeping an eye on them for the rest of their lives.