State News

3 elephants arrive at zoo, make collection largest ever

Posted October 29, 2007
Updated May 10, 2008

— Three new arrivals swelled the North Carolina Zoo's elephant herd, making it one of the largest collections of African elephants in North America.

Artie, a 24-year-old male, arrived Friday. Tonga, a 29-year-old female, and her 5-year-old female calf, Batir, were delivered Sunday. All three traveled to Asheboro via truck from Riddle's Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary near Greenbrier, Ark.

The three became the latest residents in a $2.5 million, 12,000-square-foot holding barn, part of the expansion of the zoo's Watani Grasslands Reserve. They will be held there for a standard 30-day quarantine.

The new arrivals will then gradually be introduced to Samantha, a 19-year-old female who arrived in September from Canada, and the zoo's long-time residents C'sar, a 33-year-old male, and females Diamond, 29, and Rafiki, 25.

The introduction could last several months.

The N.C. Zoo launched an $8.5 million renovation of its elephant and rhinoceros facilities in November 2006. The elephants' outdoor enclosure will be expanded to 7 acres, and new overlooks and other visitor amenities are also being constructed.

The project has been funded through $7 million in private donations to the N.C. Zoological Society and $1.5 million from the state.

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


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  • svaraj38758 Oct 30, 2007

    I count seven as the total now and the headline might be taken to mean that its the NC Zoo's largest ever at one time and still one of the nation's largest collections.

    I have one question I'd like for somebody to find out for me. Why is there no hippos? The African habitat has been open for over a quarter century and no hippos. They have mostly all other African animals. Other zoos have hippo exhibits. Why not the NC Zoo?

  • svaraj38758 Oct 29, 2007

    Shhhh! Don't tell actor Robert Culp.(See Entertainment news)

  • smitty Oct 29, 2007

    Headline says "Largest Collection Ever". Article says "One of the largest".

    How many elephants are at the zoo?