Zoo's Elephants to Move to New Facility

August 5, 2008 2:07:32 PM PDT
In early January 2006, the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium announced their plan to develop an International Conservation Center (ICC). The goal was to transform the Glen Savage Ranch, a former hunting facility into a center for breeding and caring for endangered species, including the African elephant. This will soon become the new home for the Philadelphia Zoo's African elephant's, Kallie and Bette. Final touches are being made on the facility, however the elephants are expected to move around late September. Unfortunately, this will render America's First Zoo elephant-less. Dulary, a 44-year-old Asian elephant relocated to the Elephant Sanctuary last year; and Petal, the oldest African elephant in the U.S. passed away in June. She was 52.

"It was a tough decision to be made," says to Dr. Andy Baker, Chief Operating Officer for the Philadelphia Zoo. But "the Zoo's primary concern," he emphasizes, "was the care and well-being of the elephants," and finding them a great home. It is uncertain if and, or when Kallie, Bette, and any possible offspring will return to the Philadelphia Zoo. In accordance with an April 2007 Zoo press release, Zoo president and CEO, Vikram Dewan stated that "both zoo partners agree that in the future, if circumstances permit, Kallie, Bette and their offspring could return to the Philadelphia Zoo." And according to Dr. Baker, those pending circumstances include finding funds and building a new habitat.

However, Zoo officials are confident that this will be a great move for Kallie and Bette; and for good reasons. The ICC is located 225 miles from the Philadelphia Zoo in Fairhope, Somerset County. It is made up of 724 acres of open land. 100 acres are to be used for breeding facilities, and the remaining will be used grazing and pasture. Fencing surrounds the entire facility to ensure that elephants' safety and that they cannot escape.

The ICC is also environmentally friendly. Water on the property is recycled and reused, including rainwater and the bathing water for the elephants. As well, elephant excrements will aid in heating buildings.