Tange and Sukari Share Habitat for the First Time
Last week was an exciting week in The Elephant Sanctuary’s Africa Habitat! Long-term resident Tange, and the Habitat’s newest resident, Sukari, shared the same space for the first time. The two elephants spent several hours in close proximity while quietly observing one another in the Habitat’s 12-acre South Yard. This introduction is a big milestone in the socialization of the African herd. In the wild, elephants like Tange and Sukari would have spent their entire lives with the herd into which they were born, and it would be unusual for female African elephants to form social bonds outside of their family herds. Having been captured as calves and removed from the wild, Tange and Sukari’s social upbringing in captivity was very different from elephants allowed to remain with their families in their native lands.
Tange, along with Zula, retired to The Elephant Sanctuary in 2004, having been on exhibit at a zoo in Georgia for more than 20 years. Zula died in 2009. Sukari arrived in fall 2015 after being retired from the Nashville Zoo alongside Rosie, (read about their arrival here). The Africa Habitat is currently separated into three areas to accommodate the social groupings of the resident elephants. Through planned introductions, The Sanctuary hopes to foster more robust social relationships that will create more opportunities for all five African elephants to have access to larger areas of the expanded Africa Habitat together.
Tange immediately showed interest in the new arrivals by interacting with Sukari over the fence that the two share. After observing Tange’s continued interest in the new arrivals and the positive interaction between Tange and Sukari over the fence, The Sanctuary’s care staff made plans for a proper introduction.
In preparation for this introduction to sharing space, Sukari was given access to Africa Habitat’s South Yard by herself to allow her time to explore and become familiar with the terrain. Tange was familiar with the South Yard so when the big day came, Sukari was given the opportunity to enter the South Yard first. She was given much encouragement from her care staff and and also received some tasty rewards. Tange soon followed. Lead caregiver Kristy said, “Both Tange and Sukari are rather submissive by nature… the two ate quietly next to each other for about 15 minutes. Tange then walked out into the rest of the habitat and found all the hay, while Suki explored closer toward the barn.” The somewhat uneventful introduction was exactly what Staff hoped for. “We were very happy with how relaxed both of them were,” continued Kristy. “This introduction will open a lot of social doorways for the African herd.”
Watch Sukari and Tange meet in the South Yard in the video below.
The Summer Appeal is Here!
Summertime will soon be here, and with it a new opportunity for you to help make a difference in the lives of elephants like Ronnie and Minnie (pictured above). Your contribution to the 2016 Summer Appeal will have an immediate impact on the lives The Sanctuary’s residents by providing resources to meet essential mission-critical needs. Visit our online Summer Appeal page to donate today!
As the season changes from spring to summer, we pause to remember Barbara, Ned, and Bunny. This month marks the seven-year anniversary of Ned and Bunny’s passing, and the 15-year anniversary of Barbara’s passing. The impact of their lives and their footprints in sanctuary live own in our collective memory.