An Elephant Update

As few minutes ago, a special email popped into my inbox from the Philadelphia Zoo, announcing a partnership they were forging with the Pittsburgh Zoo. The three African elephants that have been living in limbo at the Philadelphia Zoo (since Maryland decided they weren’t able to take them) will be moved to the International Conservation Center in Fairhope, Somerset County. The ICC is part of the Pittsburgh Zoo, which has one of the “most successful African elephant programs in the country.” They go so far as to say that there is a possibility that our elephants or their future offspring may be able to come back to Philly someday.

The full letter is available after the jump.

April 26, 2007

Dear Zoo Member:

Today, the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Zoos announced an unprecedented partnership that could make Pennsylvania a premier North American site for the breeding and conservation of African elephants. The Pittsburgh Zoo’s sprawling International Conservation Center (ICC) in Fairhope, Somerset County, will become the new home to our three African elephants, two of whom are considered excellent breeding candidates. Dr. Barbara Baker, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, joined me here in Philadelphia to make the announcement. The elephants are expected to move to the 724-acre site in the fall.

This is an exciting development in elephant conservation and zoo partnerships. The Pittsburgh Zoo’s experience as one of the most successful African elephant programs in the country will maximize the opportunity for Bette and Kallie to become pregnant and raise calves. We are fortunate that the timing of the ICC opening has allowed this partnership to take place, that we are able to keep the three elephants together as a close social group, and that this collaboration allows us to further advance our global conservation mission.

The Philadelphia Zoo has long been involved in elephant conservation programs in Africa and Asia. Among its initiatives, the Zoo supports the Bornean Elephant Conservation Unit, which protects endangered wild elephants in Sabah, Borneo.

Both Dr. Baker and I agree that in the future, if circumstances permit, Kallie, Bette and their offspring could one day return to the Philadelphia Zoo.

Thank you for your support of your Zoo as we have worked hard to ensure a bright future for our elephants. I welcome your feedback by email at Dewan.Vik@phillyzoo.org.

Sincerely,

Vikram H. Dewan
President and CEO

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