The Joburg Zoo has been closely monitoring Lammie, the female Pachyderm, since the demise of her male companion, Kinkel (35), who succumbed to a chronic colic ailment on 04 September 2018.
Lammie, 39, who was born on 11 August 1979 and raised at the Joburg Zoo is coping considerably well after displaying initial signs of anguish following the loss of Kinkel.
“Lammie has been found to have adjusted well and remains non-aggressive, enjoys a normal diet, is receptive to scenting and greeting her caregivers and visitors and her physical disposition is not stereotypical of being depressed”, advised Candice Ward, the enrichment officer at the Joburg Zoo.
“She appears to be enjoying the mud-bathing area, in between exploring her 1500sq meter enclosure; is clearly displaying a more interactive disposition and is receptive to the tailored, behavior enrichment regime which provides mental and physical stimulation and encourages natural behaviours”, added Ward.
Enrichment activities include scatter-feeding, ball games, frozen treats, hide and find food activities, keeper reading and visitor interactions, etc. The activities are further altered and adapted, based on her responses and preferences. It is also noted that she is mimicking behaviors observed in wild elephants, which includes mud-bathing, sand wallows and stretching over the wall to browse.
Further testing of her elephant dung is planned, to eliminate any concern of high stress levels and to scientifically verify the behavioural outcomes observed as part of the assessment. In the interim, the Joburg Zoo is engaging with relevant authorities to obtain in-principle support to acquire a companion for Lammie.
This will be subject to the Zoo finalizing its Elephant Management Plan, which will see an increase in the size of the existing elephant enclosure, to include a swimming dam with mud-bathing and sand-wallowing areas. Further development will include added enrichment nodes such as a training wall, wobbles and a tusking tree.
While there is no definite timeframe for the commencement of this process, the Joburg Zoo would like to reassure residents that the not-for-profit entity will remain compliant with all the rigid prescripts, set by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and by the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD). This will ensure that once the processes are approved, the Joburg Zoo only considers elephants born in captivity as suitable companions for Lammie.