Thandi, African elephant makes her debut

New elephant goes on display Saturday at JZG


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – This Saturday the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ (JZG) newest African elephant, Thandi, will make her public debut.

The 34-year-old elephant arrived in Jacksonville on Nov. 13 from The National Elephant Center in Fellsmere, FL. After a standard 30-day quarantine period, the animal caretakers at JZG gave her a clean bill of health and she is now ready to meet the other two elephants residing at the Zoo: Ali, a 25-year-old male and Sheena a 32-year-old female.

Thandi exhibits matriarchal traits and has developed into a leader when around other elephants. Though she is post-reproductive, she has been an excellent ‘aunt’ to elephant calves at other zoos.

“With a new herd member, you have to let them show you when they are ready to be around the others. The elephants have approached each other in very positive ways, like using their trunks to touch each other’s faces,” says Corey Neatrour, Mammal Supervisor and Elephant Program Manager at JZG.

Thandi stands 10 feet tall and weighs 8,400 pounds. As the largest terrestrial animal, African elephants can stand 7 feet to 12 feet at the shoulder and weigh between 7,000 and 12,000 pounds. Bull elephants can have tusks weighing over 135 pounds. Females, or cows, generally have smaller tusks.

Due to the worldwide demand for ivory, elephants are hunted throughout their range. To help combat their population decline, JZG supports the annual costs of an elite Wildlife Protection Unit (WPU) within Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in southern Sumatra.

The WPU patrols park boundaries, removes snares, arrests poachers and safeguards resident species including critically endangered Sumatran rhinos, tigers and elephants. 

JZG invites guests to see Thandi in her new home starting Saturday, Dec. 19.