L.A. Zoo Debuts Shaunzi the Asian Elephant to the Los Angeles Community

CONTACT: Los Angeles Zoo

July 5, 2017

Media Are Invited To View Shaunzi In The Elephants Of Asia Thai Yard on July 6


Los Angeles Zoo Elephant Shaunzi Checking Log for Food Photo by Tad Motoyama

The public can now observe the Los Angeles Zoo’s newest Asian elephant, Shaunzi, in the Thai yard at the Elephants of Asia exhibit where she continues her month-long quarantine. Shaunzi, 46-years-old, arrived at the L.A. Zoo on Tuesday, June 27 from the Fresno Chaffee Zoo and is adapting to her new home very well.

“We are amazed at how well Shaunzi is settling in and how content she seems in her new space,” said Josh Sisk, Los Angeles Zoo Curator of Mammals. “She has been very responsive to her new animal keepers, and she spends a lot of her day giving herself baths, experimenting with the different enrichment items in the yard like the large tires and boomer balls, and sniffing around the habitat. She can smell the other elephants and is definitely aware they are in the vicinity, as they are with her.”

Before Shaunzi can meet the rest of the herd, L.A. Zoo animal care staff will continue to build one-on-one relationships with the curious female, so they can anticipate how her personality will fit in with the social dynamic of the group. Shaunzi’s animal keepers from the Fresno Chaffee Zoo stayed in Los Angeles for three days following the transport to help bridge the gap and teach L.A. Zoo staff her likes, dislikes, and previous history and behavioral cues.

Following Shaunzi’s quarantine at Elephants of Asia’s Thai yard, which will last through the end of July, animal care staff will begin introducing Shaunzi to other yards in the sprawling 6.56 acre exhibit which features over three acres of outdoor space, deep bathing pools, a waterfall, sandy hills, varied topography, and a high-tech barn. Once Shaunzi is rotating through the rest of the exhibit to learn the terrain, the remainder of the herd will begin seeing and smelling her from across the exhibit. They will start to communicate and touch each other through the gates which will show the animal keepers how the personalities of the uniquely different elephants might match up if together in the same yard.

“We want to let things come together through a natural progression,” said Sisk. “We’re excited because this is one more step toward building our herd.”

LA Zoo Elephant Shaunzi 1st Day Photo by Jamie Pham

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.

The Rest of 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. 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. Jewel weighs 7,553 pounds and loves to be hosed off and make a great mess with the water. 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.