Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Charlie Grey in Action

Nice article about Charlie.......

Gentle giants immigrate

Elephants from zoo in Syracuse make move to African Lion Safari

CAMBRIDGE (May 18, 2006)

It was time to move on, so mother and daughter packed their trunks and headed for the border.

At long last, the two Americans would make Canada their new home.

They didn't get hassled when their truck arrived at the border last Tuesday.

Perhaps that's because mother is eight feet six inches tall and weighs 6,500 pounds. Her daughter is no slouch herself at seven feet six and 4,400 pounds.

They carried on down the highway to their new home, African Lion Safari, where they were given a private room to sleep in after their road trip from Syracuse, N.Y.

The next morning, mother Targa and daughter Mali were gradually introduced to the 13 members of their new extended family, the largest herd of Asian elephants in North America.

The newcomers were very polite, according to the park's superintendent of elephants, Charlie Gray.

"They've got good social skills," he said yesterday, watching the pair graze, meander and roll in mud with the rest of the herd. "They've figured out how to fit right in."

They've had practice.

Though Targa was born in Florida 23 years ago, she did most of her growing up with the herd at Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse. And that's where she gave birth to Mali nine years ago.

As the six-member herd there continued to grow -- another female there is pregnant now -- the zoo started to run out of space for all the elephants.

Zoo officials reluctantly decided to transfer Mali and Targa to African Lion Safari, which has more space and boasts the most successful Asian elephant breeding program in North America. Mali and Targa are on long-term loan, and may return to the Syracuse zoo when space allows.

If it is true that elephants have superb memories, perhaps it's best that Targa and Mali moved to a new home, since something happened in Syracuse last summer that they'd probably rather forget.

On Aug. 4, just before the zoo opened to the public, Targa's newborn son, Kedar, was playing with some of the females in the herd. The other elephants were trying to nudge the four-day-old calf away from the pool in the pen, but he darted between the legs of one and tumbled into the water.

The protective females, in an effort to pull the youngster from the water, instead pushed him deeper. He managed to keep his trunk above water and continued breathing, but he swallowed huge gulps of water.

He was eventually rescued from the pool, but his health worsened and he died later in the afternoon. Though he didn't drown, the abnormal amounts of water in his intestines caused irreparable damage.

Targa mourned the loss of her newborn for days, looking around for her missing calf and making low rumbling noises for comfort.

"A loss like that would affect her and the whole herd" Gray said.

That could be why Targa seems so interested in the three elephant calves born at African Lion Safari in the past year. Her maternal instincts -- and Mali's as well -- are strong, Gray said.

Which is good, since Mali and Targa are slowly being introduced to the park's breeding male, Rex.

Instead of hanging out in the public viewing area (that day will come, but not yet), Mali and Targa stay in a pen adjacent to Rex's, getting to know the big fella.

If they hit it off, there could be more calves at African Lion Safari in the future.

Capturing Rex's affections shouldn't be a problem.

"Mali and Targa are really nice looking elephants," Gray said.


Buckles said...

What a refreshing article! No excuses! No alibis! No Zoo gibberish! No Funded double talk!
Chuck Doyle and Charlie Gray getting a job done with a minimum of conversation, the result of knowing what you're doing.

Anonymous said...

it kind of sucks what the USDA did to the zoo. the usda told the zoo they had to pay a $10,000 fine because of kedar's death. there will be another baby born this summer which is good. hopefully the zoo will expand the elephant pen, which means these two can come back.

Anonymous said...

i hate to quibble about such a terrific story, but isn't the ringling herd at the stud farm the largest in north america? otherwise, it's a great story and very positive!

Anonymous said...

Buckles, my husband is from a circus family and we have photos of aerialists from the late 19th and early 20th century which we would be happy to share with you if you are interested.
Contact Pat at:

Buckles said...

Pat, I'm interested in showing circus pictures of any kind. Aerialists are not my long suit so any identification would be good but if none is available, often some of the viewers can help.

Buckles said...

I'm sure you're right about that tho they must have quite a few at the San Diego Zoo.

Anonymous said...

I will never understand how the USDA can be so heartless as to fine a wonderful zoo program for a tragady. It was an accident not a planned thing. I hope the USDA's bank account is happy to collect money this way. This was the last straw as far as any creditability they ever had as to how they care about animals. Its all about how much money they can collect not the care and well being of our animals. The baby elephant did not benifit from any money. Just the USDA. Accidents happen. Makes me ashamed of our government. At least it used to be ours.

Anonymous said...

From ALS website: African Lion Safari is a safari park on the northern outskirts of Hamilton, Ontario, near Cambridge, about 100 miles southwest of Toronto. The park was founded by Gordon Debenham "Don" Dailley, a retired colonel in the Canadian Army, and opened its doors on August 22, 1969. The park features more than 1,000 animals representing at least 130 species, including Asian elephants, peregrine falcons, cheetahs, striped hyenas, African lions, Bengal tigers, chimpanzees, baboons, bears, deer, donkeys, giraffes, seals, zebras, hawks, macaws, bison, and others.

Visitors can drive through the 750 acre game reserve, where animals roam freely within their large fenced areas. Guided tours on an air conditioned bus are also offered.

Anonymous said...

Buckles, if you could send contact info, i.e. email address, I will be happy to send photos, properly identified, of early aerialists.

GaryHill said...

Alot of our animals from the World of Animals park in Mesquite went to a park in Hemmingford,Quebec. It's name was Park Safari African.

Anonymous said...

I do not think the San Diego Zoological Society would ever try to claim they are the most successful Asian elephant breeding program in North America. They would not qualify even if you limited it to United States zoos. I am under the impression that Ringling is still the most successful with Asian elephant breeding outside of Asia.

Don Bloomer