SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Zoo announced today the official adoption of two Asian elephants.
Karen and Nicole had been on loan to the zoo from Feld Entertainment's Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation since 2016. They were specifically selected to be companions for the zoo's 58-year-old Asian elephant, Lucky.
The zoo has dubbed the elephant trio "The Golden Girls" and celebrated the adoption Tuesday by providing the elephants with a Valentine-themed animal enrichment.
“Uniting Lucky with Karen and Nicole has been a wonderful match,” said Tim Morrow, Executive Director and CEO of the San Antonio Zoo. “Karen and Nicole were previously companions at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, so not only were we able to keep the two of them together, but we also helped them welcome Lucky into their circle."
The elephant habitat was renovated and expanded in 2016 and over the last couple of years, animal care specialists at the zoo evaluated the trio to make sure they were forming a healthy emotional connection. Morrow says the bond that has formed between the elephants enhances their quality of life.
“Through this and their connection with the public, we get the chance to educate people about the Asian elephants’ challenges in the wild while we pursue ways to save them and other species from extinction," Morrow said.
In recent years, the zoo has faced criticism over its care for Lucky. Critics often protested outside the zoo and an animal rights group even filed a lawsuit. The plaintiffs dismissed the case last November. The San Antonio Zoo called the lawsuit "meritless" and has always maintained that Lucky received the highest level of care.