Welcome to DC, Bozie!
The 37-year-old Asian elephant, whose transfer from Baton Rouge Zoo was announced earlier this month, arrived safe and sound at the National Zoo today after traveling in a truck for more than 1,100 miles.
Baton Rouge decided to loan Bozie to another institution recently after her elephant friend, Judy, died of chronic gastrointestinal irritation from arthritis medication in March. Bozie had lived at the Baton Rouge Zoo since 1998, but had to go because female elephants need companionship to stay happy and healthy, Zoo officials said.
Bozie will join the National Zoo’s other three Asian elephants—Ambika, Kandula and Shanti (who, incidentally, lived with Bozie in Sri Lanka at an elephant orphanage before both were transported to North America)—in their newly-renovated Elephant Trails Habitat after she goes into quarantine for a minimum of 30 days, per standard procedure.
The National Zoo is regarded as a leader in elephant research, particularly on Asian elephants (whose population has dropped at least 50 percent over three generations to around 40,000, according to the IUCN Red List), so Bozie should be in good hands with the Zoo’s elephant keepers, nutritionists and veterinarians. To keep her busy mentally and physically, her caretakers will provide her with a variety of enrichment, including bamboo, boomer balls and puzzle feeders.
“Elephants are equally curious and cautious in meeting a new member of the herd,” says the Zoo elephant manager Marie Galloway. “By watching their behavioral cues, we’ll be able to determine their comfort level and can move as quickly or slowly as they see fit. Our goal is for Bozie, Shanthi and Ambika to bond and live together as a herd.”