Jothi and Surapa: A New Home
Our two Asian elephants Jothi (age 36) and Surapa (age 35) will be moving to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, La this Fall. The Buffalo Zoo made the decision because we have a responsibility to make sure all of our animals receive the best quality of care, especially as they age. Sometimes, that means locations away from the Buffalo Zoo.
News & Information
Because the current and future welfare of the animals is the Zoo’s top priority, the Buffalo Zoo announced today that its two Asian elephants Jothi (age 36) and Surapa (age 35) will be moving to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, LA.
The sprawling new elephant habitat, which celebrated its official opening on Tuesday, April 26, provides plenty of space for the two female pachyderms – and two new arrivals! – to roam, and is designed specifically to be able to meet the needs of aging elephants.
Since the official moving dates depend on when our elephants are comfortable moving, the time of our farewell events is still to be determined. Check back soon for more information about our sendoff events for Jothi and Surapa!
We are approaching the time to say farewell to the elephants. We’d like to invite you to a special farewell event on Saturday, October 27 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. You can view Jothi and Surapa on exhibit, hear a keeper talk, sign a farewell card, make a donation to elephant conservation efforts and enjoy a sweet treat (while supplies last). If you can’t make it then, we encourage you to stop by the exhibit and say farewell soon.
Frequently Asked Questions
The most frequently asked questions from our guests and our community, with answers.
The process of relocation is completely elephant-led. When Jothi and Surapa are completely comfortable voluntarily going into their transport containers, we’ll be ready to make the trip.
Until then, guests can still view Jothi and Surapa in their indoor and outdoor exhibit at the Zoo.
For the safety and security of our staff and the elephants, we will not be releasing specific details about the departure. The Buffalo Zoo will provide guests a notification of the final days when it will be best to plan a visit along with dates of special farewell events. Stay tuned to our social media channels and website for more details.
Jothi (age 36) and Surapa (age 35) will join Jean (age 45) and Panya (age 54).
Watch a video here: Tour of New Elephant Exhibit at Audubon Zoo
- Newly designed and re-opened in April 2016
- Designed specifically for geriatric and aging elephants
- State-of-the-art elephant barn featuring heated floors and other modern features to better manage potential health issues as elephants age.
- Outdoor exhibit features include several pools, enrichment tree, gentle inclines and shade trees.
One of the most critical factors in welcoming new elephants was their behavior and demeanor. The goal was to welcome elephants that are of a similar age and behavior to Jean and Panya so that the likelihood of integration was the highest.
Audubon looks forward to the arrival of these new elephants. Initially, they will be monitored by elephant care staff from both zoos as they settle into their new surroundings. After a settling period and observations of their behavior, the process of introducing Jothi and Surapa to Jean and Panya will begin. Even before those introductions begin, they will be able to see and smell each other while inside the barn.
The elephants are relocating because it is the right thing to do to ensure their long-term needs are met from a behavioral, social and health standpoint. If you have a family member approaching his or her golden years, you can understand the responsibility we have to thoughtfully plan for Jothi’s and Surapa’s future.
The move is slated for Fall 2018.
AZA-accredited facilities like the Audubon Zoo and the Buffalo Zoo provide the highest level of care for elephants and other animals. In some cases, sanctuaries are an option, but in this instance relocation to the Audubon Zoo is the best course of action.
No. Our staff works extremely hard to provide the best care for all of our animals no matter the temperature. Notably, there are many AZA-accredited zoos in colder climates that have excellent elephant facilities.
Improvements, renovations, and changes to exhibits over time is not uncommon and is a sign of a Zoo that has a strong care program for their animals. The 2008 campaign primarily funded infrastructure improvements and those changes will give us a leg-up in any new exhibits slated to be built.
We thoroughly explored this option, but we need to realize immediate changes. A renovation would not provide increased indoor or outdoor space, both of which would be required to address the long-term needs of the elephants over the remainder of their lives. It would also stall or eliminate projects, renovations, and repairs at the Zoo that are already planned or in progress.
Expanding the Zoo would be an enormous undertaking. The time to secure the land, build and expand would far exceed Jothi’s and Surapa’s life expectancy.
Take a look at Jothi and Surapa’s new home at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, LA: