Chehaw elephants leave for new home - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Chehaw elephants leave for new home

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February 19, 2004

Albany -- Zula and Tange, the Parks at Chehaw elephants, are on their way to Tennessee.

After twenty-five years in Albany, the two elephants are being moved to a new and bigger home there. Early Thursday morning, Parks at Chehaw animal handlers were very nervous as they loaded their two biggest animals onto a specially built elephant hauler.

We stayed well back, as handlers tried to make it just a normal day for the elephants. The trailer had been parked in their sanctuary for over a month, letting the elephants climb on and off and get used to it.

Twenty-nine-year-old Zula had no worries, and calmly climbed right in. Tange is 31-years-old, and she was more cautious, walking into the trailer, but then backing out over and over. With plenty of food drawing her in, Tange finally walked in and handlers shut the gates.

Kathy Murray has been the elephants' lead handler for fifteen years, and is moving to Tennessee with them. "We're thrilled. Took a little longer than we anticipated, but you have got to take that into consideration when you are moving animals, elephants in particular."

Zula and Tange were two of Chehaw's first animal residents, on display since 1978. But the decision was made to move them to The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee. Currently a three hundred -acre habitat with eight Asian elephants, it is expanding to nearly three thousand acres. Zula and Tange will be their first African elephants.

Murray said "It better replicates the natural habitat that the elephant should have. It gives them the best chance for 70 years, which is the average life span for elephants in the wild."

Parks Director Glenn Dobrogosz said "It's the best thing for the elephants. They are going to a bigger, better place. They will eventually have two thousand acres to wander. It's good for them, good for Chehaw and good for the community. Because once they are gone, we will have much more funds available to get a lot more species, a lot more animals out here."

Zula and Tange were very calm as final preparations were made for their eight-hour trip to Tennessee. With plenty of food, water, and hay on board, the truck pulled out of Chehaw, taking it's most famous animals to their new home.

You will be able to see Zula and Tange's arrival and life at their new home live on the Internet .

posted at 3:45 PM by jimw@walb.com

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