The Los Angeles Zoo sent Ruby, its 46 year old female African elephant to PAWS (The Performing Animal Welfare Society) located in San Andreas, California, Tuesday May 15th. “Ruby put smiles on the faces of millions of people who visited the LA Zoo each and every year, and it is those memories that will allow us to continue to smile despite her absence at the LA Zoo,” said Mayor Villaraigosa. “On behalf of the City of Los Angeles, we thank Ruby and wish her the best as she begins her new life at PAWS.” “Ruby’s positive impact on our community remains with us as she departs for Northern California, and we wish her the best in her new home.
At the same time, GLAZA is pleased to help fund the Zoo’s new Asian elephant exhibit, which will greatly advance the Zoo’s mission to educate our community about how, working together, we can help save this magnificent, highly endangered species” states GLAZA President Connie Morgan. Construction continues on the Zoo’s new Pachyderm Forest scheduled to open in late 2009. The new habitat will feature watering holes, mud wallows, forest trails and hills for the animals to explore.
The construction of the Zoo’s Pachyderm Forest is reflective of the national trend in accredited zoos towards upgrading and expanding their elephant habitats in a growing commitment to elephant conservation. Asian elephants are an endangered species with less than 35,000 elephants still living in the wild. The new Pachyderm Forest will interpret and educate visitors about the many challenges that these pachyderms face in the wild as well as inspire the Zoo’s 1.5 million annual visitors to take action to help endangered species such as elephants. Pachyderm Forest Exhibit Addressing the critical needs of our largest mammals, the Pachyderm Forest exhibit will benefit the Zoo’s Asian elephant collection.
With more than 3.5 acres of lush outdoor areas, this exhibit will be one of the largest of any urban zoo in the country, and will be the largest exhibit at the LA Zoo. GLAZA has committed $4.5 million in private funding toward the completion of the Pachyderm Forest. With six distinct Asian-inspired gateways to view the exhibit, the Pachyderm Forest will accommodate our elephants’ physical needs, including:
- Three interconnected exhibit yards that will allow for rotation of the elephants from one to the next.
- Facilities for behavioral enrichment, record keeping and a dedicated area for dietary and nutrition programs. State-of-the-art equipment, such as a specialized ultra-sound unit and a walk-through articulated squeeze for keeper and animal-safe elephant examinations.
- Waterfalls for washing and playing, waterholes for bathing and tree logs for the elephants to roll.
- A variety of natural surfaces for walking and standing that will promote foot and joint care.
- Natural topographic and planted environments that will stimulate exploration for elephants day and night.
Ruby’s departure leaves the LA Zoo with Billy, an adult male Asian elephant. “He is genetically important to the future of his species” states Zoo Director John Lewis. “The new habitat will allow adult bulls like Billy, who live mostly solitary lives to come into contact with the cows (female elephants) during breeding. Demolition is nearly complete to clear the area for the new Pachyderm Forest; this included demolishing the former Reptile House, Zoo Meadow and habitats for toucans and other exotic birds. The Zoo is looking for ways to expedite the project.
The first phase of the habitat to be built will be an expanded yard for Billy. The habitat will be built around Billy. Billy is no stranger to construction, he saw Chimpanzees of Mahale Mountains and Red Ape Rain Forest being built around him” notes Curator of Mammals Jennie McNary. “Whenever any heavy demolition work is being done we make sure one of our keepers is on hand. We don’t see any signs of stress due to the work being done around his habitat.”
The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways. General admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 2 to 12. The Zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For general information, call (323) 644-4200 or visit the website at www.lazoo.org