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Elephants Chai and Bamboo continue their journey to Oklahoma City Zoo

Chai and Bamboo at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Mandi Fillmore/Woodland Park Zoo.

Asian elephants Chai and Bamboo departed San Diego Zoo yesterday evening to continue their journey to Oklahoma City Zoo.

“We are so grateful to San Diego Zoo for providing a comfortable rest stop for Chai and Bamboo while we worked with our colleagues and the animal transport team to line up logistics for the final leg of the journey,” said Dr. Deborah Jensen, Woodland Park Zoo President and CEO.

“Meticulous planning has gone into this transport. With a window of favorable weather, expert transport staff available, and a new route coordinated, Chai and Bamboo are ready to move to their new home and family,” added Jensen.

Accompanied by five Woodland Park Zoo elephant care staff, three veterinarians and six expert animal transport staff, the elephants are traveling in separate, ventilated crates equipped with heating and evaporative cooler units, as well as closed circuit cameras that allow staff to monitor the animals remotely in real time.

The crates were lifted by crane and placed one each on two custom designed flat-bed trucks. The drive is expected to take 25-30 hours, allowing for stops approximately every three hours to check the elephants’ comfort and well-being, and to provide food and refresh water.

At Oklahoma City Zoo, Chai and Bamboo will join a multi-generational herd composed of two young adult females, Asha (20) and sister Chandra (18), and Asha’s daughters, Malee (4) and Achara (5 months). A 47-year-old male, Rex, also lives at Oklahoma City Zoo.

“We are excited to have these two new members join our family,” said Dwight Lawson, Ph.D., OKC Zoo executive director/CEO. “This journey has always been about the best care possible for Chai and Bamboo. We’ve witnessed an incredible collaboration of three Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited zoos, which kept the well-being of Chai and Bamboo at the forefront of their transition.”

Upon arriving, Chai and Bamboo will walk out of their travel crates into the barn where they will enter standard quarantine for 30 days—standard procedure for any newly arrived animal at an accredited zoo. During the quarantine period, the elephants will have access to two stalls inside the barn and one exhibit outdoor yard, and will be able to see, hear and smell the other elephants. Woodland Park Zoo keepers will spend as much time as necessary with Chai and Bamboo to help ease their transition.

Oklahoma City Zoo has expertise in integrating herds and will follow a plan that socializes Chai and Bamboo with the herd in incremental steps, following the cues of the animals.

“Female Asian elephants naturally live in multi-generational herds in the wild,” explained Jensen. “It’ll take some time for Chai and Bamboo to fully settle in, but once they do, the family of elephants at Oklahoma City Zoo will offer an enriching social life for them.”

Updates will be forthcoming and more information can be found at


Anonymous said…
Our love goes with them wherever they go. Best wishes to the elephants and to the zoo staff traveling with them for an uneventful trip now to Oklahoma.
Anonymous said…
I'm a 10 year old girl who loves animals. I think that Chai and Bamboo should be in a sanctuary, not a zoo that they will be gawked at in. Why would you have these elephants shipped to many different zoos? Give me a good reason why that's ok, because its not. You should've done the right thing and sent them to a sanctuary. If you really love animals, you would've sent them to a sanctuary. You obviously didn't because you sent them to another zoo. These poor elephants should really be in the wild with their families, where they belong. This zoo should be put in shame. They shouldn't have two older elephants shipped to a bunch of different zoos, they are older and need a lot more space. You might think that they're happy, but you don't ever know. I hope this zoo changes because i know, i'll never support this zoo.
Anonymous said…
I agree with the little girl!!! Poor Chai and Bamboo.
Unknown said…
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Anonymous said…
I totally agree with the little girl. Wild animals should be left in the wild. She is very insightful for her age.
Anonymous said…
I agree with the insightful young girl. These poor animals should be left alone in their own countries. such a sad world for our fellow planet mates. Thank God young children. Like the 10yr old girl are growing up with a heart for right.