Did you know Dallas has its very own "Golden Girls?" On this World Elephant Day, meet four female friends who partake an adventure every day. These fun-loving gals are the eldest elephants at the Dallas Zoo named Jenny, Congo, Kamba and Gypsy.
Elephants are some of the largest and smartest animals in the world -- and eight of them call the Dallas Zoo home. We wanted to introduce you to them and let residents of North Texas know what you can do to help these elephants.
Jenny, 42; Congo, 41; Kamba, 40; Gypsy, 38; Tendaji, 16 (who is the only adult male); Zola, 16; Mlilo 15; and Ajabu, 3, live at the "Giants of the Savannah" habitat.
Jenny has been at the zoo the longest and she is the "queen of all the elephants," said Dallas Zoo Curator of the Giants of the Savannah Lora Baumhardt. She's also the matriarch, weighs 10,000 pounds and uses her wisdom to teach the rest of the herd.
"Elephants are highly social animals and they have complex social interactions," Baumhardt said. "It's important for the older elephants to teach the younger elephants."
Gypsy is Jenny's best friend and she became an aunt-like figure to the newest member of the herd, 3-year-old Ajabu. It’s been a while since Gypsy was around an infant elephant so it was a cool interaction to witness, Baumhardt said.
The Zoo didn't know Mlilo was pregnant with Ajabu when they brought her and two other elephants, Tendaji and Zola, from Swaziland three years ago. (By the way, elephants are pregnant for 22 months!)
"[Ajabu is] a kid so he's definitely pretty wild, active and playful," Baumhardt said. "He's definitely thrived here."
How North Texas Residents Can Help Elephants
Each elephant eats about 200 pounds of vegetation a day. The Zoo strives to provide the most natural diet so every day a team searches for freshly cut trees that are safe to feed to the animals.
"Anytime you are planning to trim a tree or cut down a tree. You can go to dallaszoo.com/browse to see what you can do to potentially coordinate a donation so you can help feed these magnificent animals," Baumhardt said.
People who live within a 10 mile radius of the zoo who have certain types of trees can help provide fresh trimmings to the elephants.
Elephants don’t have natural predators, but it’s estimated 96 elephants a day are killed to support the illegal trade for ivory.
"The easiest thing you can do is just don’t buy ivory. It’s really as simple as that," Baumhardt said. "The other thing to to come visit us at the Dallas Zoo. A portion of all of our ticket sales go directly to our conservation fund which helps us support conservation initiatives all over the world."