Posted In Animals | 28th March 2023

The elephant herd will be off-show at certain times daily.

We’re world-famous!

Did you know Dublin Zoo is world famous for the success of its Asian Elephant breeding programme?

Dublin Zoo is home to one of the most successful breeding herds of Asian elephants in the world, thanks in part to the modern protected contact programme at Dublin Zoo which centred on the elephant’s biological, physiological and psychological needs. Since 2007, Dublin Zoo has seen the arrival of nine elephants. The elephants at Dublin Zoo regularly contribute to scientific research on a huge variety of topics which have helped inform animal management practices and conservation actions. A big part of conservation and ensuring the future survival of endangered species, like the Asian elephant, is work done by the International Breeding Programme.

They grow up so fast.

Such was the success of Dublin Zoo’s elephant breeding programme, our elephants Yasmin, her daughter Anak and son Kabir, and Sanjay, Anak’s son, have all been selected by the International Breeding programme to travel to Cincinnati Zoo to become the first residents of their very own new $25 million elephant habitat. While we are sad to say goodbye, this move to Cincinnati Zoo is an important step to support the worldwide demographic and genetic backup to wild Asian elephant populations. The move will happen sometime this Autumn.

Bernhardine, Zinda, Samiya, Asha & Avani will remain in Dublin Zoo.
For our elephants, it’s not just about making sure they pack their trunk before they go!

To ensure our elephants are as comfortable as possible on their journey to their new home, it’s really important they are given lots of time to become familiar with the process of travelling in a protective crate. This is done through something called ‘protected contact training’.

Protected contact training is a reward-based method which allows elephants to have full control over everything they do and is completely voluntary. This means our elephants only engage with the training if they want too and can trundle away at any stage! It’s a very slow and gradual process which builds trust between the elephants and the keepers and will allow the elephants to feel confident, relaxed and comfortable when in they are transported to Cincinnati Zoo.

To simulate the conditions of the move, the protected training requires elephants to wear bracelets made from cloth and rubber around their feet. The elephants will be wearing these bracelets in transit, as required by the International Air Transport Association guidelines for the transport of live animals. Like humans wearing a seatbelt on a plane, elephants need to wear these bracelets to limit their movement and ensure their health and safety while in transit. If an elephant moved too much during a flight, their enormous weight could destabilise the plane!

Where are the elephants!?

Becoming familiar with the process of travelling from one zoo to another through positive reinforcement and rewards-based training takes time. For the next few months, our elephants will be spending time each day with keepers in their protected training environment. Our other elephants – Bernhardine, Zinda, Samiya, Asha & Avani – stay in the elephant house during the protected training. This is because the elephants who are in training might be distracted by their friends!