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Elephant update: Chai and Bamboo making friends at Oklahoma City Zoo

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor

Bamboo with little Malee. Photo by Lena Kofoed.

Chai and Bamboo are making friends! Now that the elephants have cleared standard quarantine at their new home in Oklahoma City Zoo, the two have begun spending time with their new herd mates, Asha, Chandra, Malee and Achara.


Introductions began with physical interactions through barriers inside the elephant barn, which allowed the keepers to observe behaviors and body language while the girls touched and smelled each other. Chai started out a little shy but receptive to her new herd mates. Bamboo stood her ground early on but soon after was cautious yet curious and allowed the other elephants, including the two babies, to snake their trunks all over her, taking in her scent and feel.

Chandra and Malee with Chai. Photo by Lena Kofoed.

Within days the barriers were removed. First, the doors inside were opened and all the females joined each other, which allowed keepers to assess further how they would get along. Then they were given outdoor access together. Each day, under the watchful eyes of Oklahoma City Zoo keepers and a Woodland Park Zoo keeper, the elephants spend more and more time together.

The introductions have been going smoothly. Keepers spotted Bamboo touching trunks with 6-month-old Achara and 4-year-old Malee, and Chai is right by their side, fitting in well. The bond between Bamboo and Chai has grown stronger too!

Chai and Bamboo with Malee. Photo by Lena Kofoed.

Everyone is still sorting out their place with each other, and no doubt the herd dynamics will evolve now that two older, experienced elephants have joined the mix. Integration takes time, but these early signs are positive and Oklahoma City Zoo keepers will allow the progress to continue on elephant time at a pace that works for the herd.

To follow this story and more about the elephants, look for updates by Oklahoma City Zoo on Facebook and


Anonymous said…
We're so grateful for the update! It is particularly gratifying that Bamboo is receptive to those baby and toddler trunks. What an enriching summer this will be for Chai and Bamboo, and, of course, the four OK females.
Anonymous said…
How is this life different from the ones they led at Woodland Park Zoo?
melinda said…
Thank you for the update. I so agree with Anonymous. It's still early but as you say integration takes time.
Anonymous said…
The most obvious difference: 6 > 2
Anonymous said…
young ones.
Anonymous said…
Chai and Bamboo haven't seen a baby elephant not since hansa (chai's baby)