By Darla Shelden
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden has recently welcomed Rex the Asian elephant. He will soon be joining the zoo’s two adult female elephants Asha and Chandra and 8-month-old female Malee. Rex becomes the fourth member of the zoo’s Asian elephant herd.
The newest addition was born in India in approximately 1968 and is estimated to be 43-years-old. Weighing in at 8,000 pounds, Rex comes to the Zoo from Canada’s African Lion Safari. As with all new animals at the zoo, Rex will be in quarantine for at least a month before being viewable to guests and introduced to the other elephants.
“We are very excited about Rex’s arrival, said Dwight Scott, Oklahoma City Zoo Executive Director/CEO. “We have been working with the Asian Elephant Species Survival Plan through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to find a compatible bull to breed with our adult female elephants and Rex was recommended. In time, we hope to see our herd grow.”
Elephant bulls in the wild are semi-nomadic, they typically travel alone as adults and meet up with females to breed.
“Weather and a slow introduction process will help determine when Rex will be on view in an outdoor yard alone and when he will eventually, albeit very gradually, begin to meet Asha, Chandra and Malee,” said Scott.
Since there is no way to determine exactly how long this process will take, the elephants will help the animal management team decide when the time is right.
Once that happens, the team hopes Rex will successfully court the female elephants and produce offspring. He has previously sired five offspring; three males and two females.
The Asian elephant is on the Endangered Species List with an estimated 38,000 to 51,000 wild elephants remaining worldwide. There is a real threat of extinction if conservation efforts are not made to preserve the species.
In the wild, Asian elephants reside in tropical forests and often farm and grasslands located adjacent to these habitats. They can grow up to 11,000 lbs and stand about 10 feet tall, although female elephants generally grow to about 8 ½ feet tall and weigh less than their male counterparts.
While their size may be distinguishing, their notorious grey color is not—this skin coloration allows them to blend in to their forest environment. Their trunks provide an important adaptation as they allow the elephants to eat, drink, reach objects close to the ground, blow dirt for skin protection, and greet other elephants, fight and much more. Asian elephants can live up to 60 years in the wild, but most do not live that long due to dangers in their environment such as poaching and habitat destruction.
“Elephant expenses are quite large, as you can imagine and transportation costs were nearly $10,000 to bring Rex to the Zoo,” said Tara Henson, Director of Marketing for the Oklahoma City Zoo. We are grateful to the Oklahoma Zoological Society (OZS) and Bank of Oklahoma who have been working together to raise money for Rex’s transport from Canada to Oklahoma City and to our community who always supports our efforts.”
The Oklahoma Zoological Society along with Bank of Oklahoma has partnered to raise money to aid in paying for the over 1,500 mile transport from Canada to Oklahoma City.
For updates on Rex and the elephant herd follow along on face book at www.facebook.com/okczoobg.
Located in the heart of Oklahoma City’s Adventure District, the OKC Zoo is Oklahoma’s #1 attraction and one of the top three family-friendly zoos in the nation.
The Zoo is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children ages three to 11, and seniors ages 65 and older. Children two years and younger are free.
Mondays in January and February are free admission days at the Zoo.
To help with Rex’s Trek please go to www.zoofriends.com to make a tax-deductible donation. For more information, call (405) 427-2461, ext. 612, or visit okczoo.com.
OKC Zoo prepares new addition Asian Elephant Rex to join Asha, Chandra and Malee
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