The two Asian elephants at the Oklahoma City Zoo were taken to Tulsa on Thursday, marking the beginning of a breeding plan that could yield an elephant herd in Oklahoma City.
Elephants Asha and Chandra were loaded onto a specialized trailer after several hours of maneuvering, said Brian Aucone, interim director of the Oklahoma City Zoo. The sisters then spent an hour and a half on the road before arriving at the Tulsa Zoo. They both handled the trip well, Aucone said.
"When we opened up the trailer, they were just standing there, eating, messing around with each other,” he said.
Officials expect to have the elephants at the Tulsa Zoo for two years. The plan is for the bull elephant Sneezy to impregnate sisters Asha and Chandra. While the females are away, Oklahoma City Zoo officials will hurry to build a new exhibit for the pair and their offspring in the upcoming Asia exhibit. The long-term goal is for additional elephants to join the mothers and calves.
The voyage to Tulsa
In Oklahoma City on Thursday, Chandra was the first to walk into the modified trailer, which is reinforced with steel and climate controlled. Keepers gave the elephants plenty of fruits, vegetables and hay for the ride.
"They had a whole pile of stuff to chow on while they were coming up here,” Aucone said.
The two were unloaded into their own space in the Tulsa Zoo elephant barn, and they spent a lot of time touching trunks and reassuring each other, Aucone said.