Philadelphia Zoo's African Elephant Moves to New Facility

Kallie, a female elephant moves to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s
new $25 million African elephant crossing.

(November 1, 2011) - Officials from the Philadelphia Zoo, the Pittsburgh Zoo and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo announced today that Kallie, a female African elephant formerly from the Philadelphia Zoo, will move from the Pittsburgh Zoo’s International Conservation Center (ICC) to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s new $25 million African Elephant Crossing. Kallie’s new home features habitats sited on five acres and includes two extensive exhibits connected by a “crossing” that allows elephants to move from one exhibit to the next across a visitor pathway. Exhibits are outfitted with large pools, trees, scratching rocks, and foraging areas. Spacious indoor sleeping quarters give elephants a choice to sleep lying against sand mounds they dug themselves or to wander outside to a heated outdoor range. The African Elephant Crossing currently houses a herd that includes four female elephants and one male. The project represents a long-term investment in Metroparks Zoo's commitment to improving the future for endangered elephants.

"We are very happy to welcome Kallie to Cleveland, where we hope there will be a joyful reunion with elephants she may have known in the past" said Cleveland Metroparks Zoo General Curator Geoff Hall.

The Philadelphia Zoo, America’s First Zoo, announced plans to relocate its elephants in 2006 after determining there was insufficient funding to build a new elephant habitat suitable for housing an expanded herd. Working closely with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Elephant Taxon Advisory Group to evaluate several options, the Zoo decided to move its two African elephants Bette and Kallie to Pittsburgh’s ICC, with the move occurring in July 2009.

The decision to move Kallie to Cleveland follows the arrival at the ICC of three young female elephants from Botswana, and stems from an assessment of best social options in this context for Kallie as well as Bette. While the two females have lived together for more than a decade, neither staff at Philadelphia nor staff at Pittsburgh have observed a close or highly positive relationship. This move will give Kallie an opportunity to be part of a larger female herd, with more social complexity and options. Kallie is familiar with some of the elephants already at Cleveland, having lived at the same locations for a period of time when she was younger. Bette will remain at the ICC and be integrated with three young females from Botswana, thus also becoming part of a larger social group.

“Bette and Kallie left the Zoo more than two years ago, but we still share responsibility for their well-being and will do so for the rest of their lives,” said Dr. Andy Baker, the Philadelphia Zoo’s Chief Operating Officer. “Social environment is so important for elephants, and we are excited about the new opportunities for both Bette and Kallie.”

African elephants are considered vulnerable to extinction in the wild due to habitat destruction, conflict with humans, and poaching. The Philadelphia Zoo continues its significant and long-term support of global elephant conservation. Currently, the zoo is focused on an ongoing commitment to the Bornean Elephant Conservation Unit, a project of the conservation organization Hutan, in Sabah (Malaysian Borneo). Bornean elephants were recently confirmed as a unique elephant subspecies and are among the world’s most endangered types of elephants, with a total population of perhaps 1,500.

The Philadelphia Zoo, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and the ICC will provide ongoing information about the relocation and Kallie’s transition to her new home.