In the early morning hours on Tuesday, June 27, the Los Angeles Zoo welcomed 46-year-old female Asian elephant Shaunzi from the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.
Shaunzi traveled 215 miles from Fresno, CA in a specially-designed elephant crate and was accompanied by a team of curators, animal keepers, and veterinarians from the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. Shaunzi will be quarantined at the Elephants of Asia exhibit for the next month, so she can slowly get to know her new home and its current residents, Billy, Tina, and Jewel.
Shaunzi was born in Thailand in 1971 and spent much of her youth in the Cristiani Bros. Circus. She arrived at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo in 1983 alongside fellow Asian elephant Kara. The two females spent every day together as companions until Kara’s death earlier this month on June 7 due to a significant decline in health.
Not wanting Shaunzi to remain alone, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo asked the Los Angeles Zoo to provide the female elephant with a home, and the LA Zoo wholeheartedly agreed.
“We didn’t hesitate when asked by the Fresno Chaffee Zoo to provide a home for Shaunzi,” said John Lewis, Los Angeles Zoo Director. “This is an Asian elephant who recently lost her lifetime companion, and we are able to provide her with socialization, excellent care, and a state-of-the-art facility where she can live out the rest of her years.”
The LA Zoo is excited to expand the size of its herd and believes the addition of Shaunzi will add flexibility to the group dynamic and provide more social options among the elephants. Furthermore, the Los Angeles community will have the unique opportunity to welcome and observe another majestic Asian elephant through rich, inspiring experiences that the Zoo hopes will familiarize guests with the challenges Asian elephants face in the wild.
The LA Zoo is eager for Angelenos to meet Shaunzi later this summer so they may welcome her to the community much as they did with Tina and Jewel, the last Asian elephants to arrive here in 2010.
“Shaunzi has been in Fresno for more than three decades and, while staff and guests are going to miss her, we are very excited to be able to relocate her to Los Angeles,” said Scott Barton, Fresno Chaffee Zoo CEO. “We really feel like it’s the perfect fit for Shaunzi.”
Staff from the Fresno Chaffee Zoo will remain in Los Angeles to work with the LA Zoo animal care staff to ensure a smooth transition for Shaunzi.
The Los Angeles Zoo opened a state-of-the-art elephant exhibit called Elephants of Asia on Dec. 16, 2010. The largest habitat in the history of the LA Zoo, Elephants of Asia occupies center stage on our campus, at the very heart of the Zoo. The sprawling exhibit is 6.56 acres, with over three acres of outdoor space, deep bathing pools, sandy hills, varied topography, clever enrichment opportunities, and a high-tech barn capable of caring for elephants of all sizes and ages. Elephants of Asia focuses on the rich connection between elephants and the cultures of Thailand, India, China, and Cambodia.