Local News

Elephant Finds New Home at N.C. Zoo

Posted September 30, 2007

— This teenager from Canada weighs more than 3 1/2 tons, but Samantha's adopted family welcomed her to North Carolina with open arms and a cool drink.

The 19-year-old female elephant was the first addition to the North Carolina Zoo's elephant herd, which, along with its exhibit and holding facilities, was undergoing a major expansion.

In June, the N.C. Zoo in Asheboro struck a deal with the Valley Zoo in Edmonton, Alberta, to send Samantha south on a breeding loan.

She arrived at the N.C. Zoo shortly after sunrise Sunday after a four-day truck ride. One of her Edmonton zoo keepers, Jackie Buck, accompanied her and will stay for five days to help Samantha acclimate.

She was unloaded safely and resting comfortably in her stall later in the morning, zoo officials said. After a standard 30-day quarantine, Samantha will be gradually introduced to the zoo’s three elephants, which include two females and one male.

That herd will expand to seven in October, with the addition of one male and two female African elephants from a private facility. They will join Samantha as the first residents in a new $2.5 million, 12,000-square-foot holding barn.

The N.C. Zoo is undertaking an $8.5 million renovation of its elephant and rhinoceros facilities, called the Watani Grasslands Reserve. The elephants' outdoor enclosure will be expanded to 7 acres, and new overlooks and other visitor amenities will also be constructed.

Since the Watani Grasslands Reserve project was launched in November 2006, more than $7 million has been raised through private donations to the N.C. Zoological Society. The state has also pledged $1.5 million.

The grand opening of the Watani Grasslands Reserve is set for April 4, 2008.

The N.C. Zoo's elephant breeding program exceeds the revised recommended standards of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.


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  • moose13 Oct 1, 2007

    What a WONDERFUL zoo, Ive been there once, and CANT wait to go again!!!

  • poohperson2000 Oct 1, 2007

    Can someone please clarify how you can classify an elephant as disfunctional? Let me see, if I were an elephant (skip the comments about me actually being one!!), my job for the days is to wake up, eat, look good for the visitors, eat, go the bathroom, eat, socialize with my fellow elephants, and o'yeah eat again..

  • poohperson2000 Oct 1, 2007

    Went to the zoo on Sunday. The new elephant habitat is wonderful. We saw the elephants closer up than you see them at the zoos with tiny enclosures (like LA Zoo). We are Zoo Society Members and love spending time there with our son. People with kids be sure to go to boo at the zoo the weekend before Halloween. Have not missed it a single year since our son has been born.

  • Just WhiskeyKel Oct 1, 2007

    The zoo there is one of the best ones I've been to. All the animals seemed happy and had room to roam.

  • Supie Oct 1, 2007

    Notfromhere: ammcomms makes good points and is not spewing anything, unlike some posters who seem to have an abundance of bile. Lots of different opinions occur in public blogs, hope you learn to enjoy them.

  • wolfmandan Oct 1, 2007

    Congrats to NC Zoo..Keep up the great job ya'll are doing...

  • Bing Used Oct 1, 2007

    It has been a while since I have been to the zoo, but the animals did seem well taken care of and liked to look at the humans too.

  • lucky22 Oct 1, 2007

    While I hate to think of any animal being kept in a zoo at least she has a home. At least she won't wind up in a circus and be made to perform for human's.

  • NotFromHere Sep 30, 2007

    ammcomms, you should really do some research before you talk about things you know nothing about. The NC Zoo is one of the finest in the world, ESPECIALLY in its handling and breeding of African Elephants.

    And NO these elephants are not going to circuses and shows. What utter nonsense you people spew. The zoo is trying to create a successful breeding heard so that, as the number of African Elephants continues to shrink in the wild, we can continue the life of this wonderful animal in other parts of the world where they can be protected.

  • theroadislong Sep 30, 2007

    I recently visited the Ashboro zoo with my fiance for the first time. It was amazing and definitely something I will never forget. I would have a hard time believing that the people at the zoo are not looking out for the animals' best interests. All animals seemed well taken care of.