L.A. Zoo Welcomes a Female Asian Elephant to the Herd

CONTACT: April Spurlock

June 27, 2017

Fresno Chaffee Zoo’s Asian Elephant Shaunzi Finds A New Home and Herd at the L.A. Zoo’s Elephants of Asia Exhibit

Asian Elephant Shaunzi in the water – Photo by the Fresno Chaffee Zoo

In the early morning hours on Tuesday, June 27, the Los Angeles Zoo welcomed 46-year-old female Asian elephant Shaunzi from the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. Shaunzi traveled 215 miles from Fresno, CA in a specially-designed elephant crate and was accompanied by a team of curators, animal keepers, and veterinarians from the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. Shaunzi will be quarantined at the Elephants of Asia exhibit for the next month, so she can slowly get to know her new home and its current residents, Billy, Tina, and Jewel.

Shaunzi was born in Thailand in 1971 and spent much of her youth in the Cristiani Bros. Circus. She arrived at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo in 1983 alongside fellow Asian elephant Kara. The two females spent every day together as companions until Kara’s death earlier this month on June 7 due to a significant decline in health. Not wanting Shaunzi to remain alone, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo asked the Los Angeles Zoo to provide the female elephant with a home, and the L.A. Zoo wholeheartedly agreed.

“We didn’t hesitate when asked by the Fresno Chaffee Zoo to provide a home for Shaunzi,” said John Lewis, Zoo Director at the Los Angeles Zoo. “This is an Asian elephant who recently lost her lifetime companion, and we are able to provide her with socialization, excellent care, and a state-of-the-art facility where she can live out the rest of her years.”

Shaunzi the Asian Elephant – Photo by Fresno Chaffee Zoo

The Los Angeles Zoo is excited to expand the size of its herd and believes the addition of Shaunzi will add flexibility to the group dynamic and provide more social options among the elephants. Furthermore, the Los Angeles community will have the unique opportunity to welcome and observe another majestic Asian elephant through rich, inspiring experiences that the Zoo hopes will familiarize guests with the challenges Asian elephants face in the wild. The L.A. Zoo is eager for Angelenos to meet Shaunzi later this summer so they may welcome her to the community much as they did with Tina and Jewel, the last Asian elephants to arrive at the L.A. Zoo in 2010.

“Shaunzi has been in Fresno for more than three decades and, while staff and guests are going to miss her, we are very excited to be able to relocate her to Los Angeles,” said Scott Barton, CEO at Fresno Chaffee Zoo. “We really feel like it’s the perfect fit for Shaunzi.”

Staff from the Fresno Chaffee Zoo will remain in Los Angeles to work with the L.A. Zoo animal care staff to ensure a smooth transition for Shaunzi.

Photo Credit: The attached photos were taken by the Frenso Chaffee Zoo in Shaunzi’s old exhibit in Fresno, CA.

The Herd:

Billy is a 32-year-old male, Asian elephant who arrived at the L.A. Zoo in 1989 as a young calf from Malaysia. His current keepers have cared for him since he was a calf. Billy stands 11 feet tall and weighs in at 13,625 pounds. Billy enjoys bathing in his pool and standing underneath the waterfall in his habitat. Tina and Jewel, two female Asian elephants, arrived at the Los Angeles Zoo in November 2010 from the San Diego Zoo. Tina and Jewel were born in the wild some time in the mid-to-late 1960s and are in their early 50s. Tina weighs 8,095 pounds and loves to swim on hot days. She puts her tail to the side when she is excited. Jewel weighs 7,553 pounds and loves to be hosed off and make a great mess with the water. They were both owned by several different circuses/entertainers before arriving at the San Diego Zoo in 2009. Tina and Jewel have lived together for over 35 years and have a close relationship.

About the Elephants of Asia Exhibit:
The Los Angeles Zoo opened a state-of-the-art elephant exhibit called Elephants of Asia on December 16, 2010. The largest habitat in the history of the L.A. Zoo, Elephants of Asia occupies center stage on our campus, at the very heart of the Zoo. The sprawling exhibit is 6.56 acres, with over three acres of outdoor space, deep bathing pools, sandy hills, varied topography, clever enrichment opportunities, and a high-tech barn capable of caring for elephants of all sizes and ages. Elephants of Asia focuses on the rich connection between elephants and the cultures of Thailand, India, China, and Cambodia. The exhibit familiarizes guests with the challenges Asian elephants face in the wild, including their shrinking habitat, and gives visitors the opportunity to directly contribute to conservation programs that support elephants in their native countries.

About the Los Angeles Zoo:
Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the landmark Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, drawing nearly 1.8 million visitors each year, is home to a diverse collection of 1,100 animals representing 250 different species, many of which are rare or endangered. Its lush grounds on 113 acres feature a botanical collection comprising over 800 different plant species with approximately 7,000 individual plants. The Zoo is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways. Admission is $20 for adults and $15 for children ages 2 to 12. The Zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For information, call (323) 644-4200 or visit the L.A. Zoo Web site at www.lazoo.org.