Press Release
January 2, 2004

After 30 years of public service, Tange and Zula are retiring

Tange and Zula

HOHENWALD, Tenn. (January 2, 2004) – A custom built elephant transport trailer will arrive at the Parks at Chehaw, Saturday, January 3, 2004, in preparation for a mammoth move. Tange and Zula, two African elephants that have spent their entire lives at the Wild Animal Park in Albany, Georgia, are being retired. They have entertained hundreds of thousands of people over the past 30 years and according to zoo director, Glenn Dobrogosz, “they deserve to live out their remaining years in the very best captive environment possible. I researched many facilities and found The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee to be the most suitable environment for our elephants.”

The transport trailer will be parked in the middle of the elephant’s exhibit yard for an undetermined period of time. Tange and Zula will be given access to the trailer several times throughout the day. Once both are comfortable standing inside the trailer they will be transported to the Sanctuary. Tange and Zula will become the first African elephants to take up residency at this one-of-a-kind preserve.

The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tenn., has embarked on a mammoth project, expanding from its current 200-acre habitat and eight resident Asian elephants to an enormous 2,700-acre natural habitat preserve that can sustain up to 100 elephants of both species. Until now, the residents have been strictly Asian elephants retired from zoos and circuses across America, but the expansion means that for the first time African elephants will call the Elephant Sanctuary home. Three African elephants are scheduled to move to the Sanctuary this month. Tange and Zula currently reside at Chehaw Wild Animal Park in Georgia; the third is Flora, an ex-performing elephant, currently boarding at the Miami Metro Zoo.

Inspired by eight years of successful operation and remarkable support from its growing membership, the Sanctuary has decided to take on this $6 million dollar expansion. The preserve will be divided with separate habitat and facilities for each species. This is appropriate since Asian and African elephants have different languages, behaviors and dietary needs.

The Elephant Sanctuary is the nation’s largest natural-habitat refuge developed to meet the special needs of elephants. It is the only place in the U.S. where elephants have free access to a habitat where the climate and vegetation are similar to their native homes. Tennessee is nearly a perfect fit, and the Sanctuary provides a heated barn for the short period in winter when the nighttime temperatures are colder than the norms of wild elephant country.

A dream of co-founders Carol Buckley and Scott Blais, the Sanctuary provides a retirement option for old, sick and needy elephants. Before sanctuaries, no such option existed for hard-to-place elephants. There were only roadside zoos, circuses or euthanasia. Life is hard for elephants in such places. Buckley explains, “Elephants are highly intelligent and very socially complex animals. In captivity, some elephants still live solitary lives, and many only have one companion. Nearly all are so starved for emotional connection and mental stimulation that they exhibit abnormal behaviors like head bobbing and swaying.” She adds, “Elephants are also migratory by nature, and walk 30 to 50 miles a day in the wild. In nearly all captive situations, elephants are confined in small yards or chained in transport containers, holding areas or parking lots. Circus elephants are often chained for 20 hours a day.” This kind of confinement leads to chronic foot problems and arthritis that shortens their life.

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, call (931) 796-6500 or visit the web site at www.elephants.com.