Elephants that currently make their home at the Little Rock Zoo include a trio of elderly females; Zina, born in 1961; Sophie, born in 1969; and Babe, born in 1975. They are Asian elephants, and all performed for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The Little Rock Zoo is committed to the highest standards in elephant care and conservation and specializes in handling geriatric female elephants. Our elephant caretakers specialize in caring for elderly female pachyderms, and Babe, Sophie and Zina get round-the-clock attention.
Sophie is very musical. She likes to hear noises, and will bang things against the fence. Babe is our all-star painter. Babe and Sophie are definitely bonded, and we make sure one can always see the other. It's probably being anthropomorphic (attribution of human characteristics to animals), but, yes, we think they love each other.
Zina, the oldest and smallest at 6,200 pounds, is a little less social than Babe and Sophie. Both Sophie and Zina are dominant females. Since they can't both be in charge, they must play in separate yards, and their barn is divided. But Babe and Zina get along fine and are able to socialize and interact.
Caretakers are dedicated to providing special accommodations to make the trio comfortable. Great mounds of dirt are piled at three locations in the elephant exhibit to give the arthritic giants something to lean against to rest, rather than having to get all the way up and down from the ground.
- Not all elephants develop visible tusks. In Asian elephants, only some males have large, prominent tusks. Most female and some male Asian elephants have small tusks, called tushes, which seldom protrude more than an inch or two from the lip line.
- Elephants communicate over long distances using low-pitched sounds that are barely audible to humans. These powerful infrasonic rumbles contain specific messages that can be heard and understood by other elephants more than 2 miles away.
The future of elephants largely depends on the continuation of the ivory ban, habitat preservation, devising ways for people and elephants to co-exist together and successful zoo breeding programs around the world. Often, one of the most successful methods of conserving a species is to view it as a sustainable resource. While it is certainly not feasible to use elephants for their ivory, they can be seen as a resource in ecotourism as well as in logging operations that have historically had very little negative impact on their forest environment. Due to its need for large areas of suitable habitat, the Asian elephant is considered a 'flagship' or umbrella species, whose survival would help maintain biological diversity and ecological integrity over extensive areas. Asian elephants have great religious significance throughout their range, which has contributed significantly to their conservation. Please join our efforts to secure a future for this species by donating to our conservation fund.
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