Lyndsay Nantz, Fort Worth Zoo Communications Director, 817/759-7362
Tracy Sturrock, Fort Worth Zoo Communications Manager, 817/759-7360
Melinda Rosser, Ringling Bros., 813/494-7768
Lisa Dreisch, 202/944-5158
Fort Worth Zoo, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Announce Elephant Transfer
Two leaders in Asian elephant conservation announce partnership
Fort Worth, Texas (June 20, 2005)—In a progressive move, the Fort Worth Zoo announced today that the institution will acquire, on breeding loan, an Asian male elephant (bull) from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey this fall in an effort to increase reproduction rates with the female Asian elephants housed at the Zoo.
The Fort Worth Zoo’s last successful elephant birth was in 1998, and although the Zoo continues to house Groucho, a 34-year-old bull elephant, his reproductive history with the Zoo’s female elephants (cows) is less than stellar. Zoo management hopes that bringing in another bull will ensure pregnancies and even spur Groucho to action.
“It is vital that the Fort Worth Zoo improve its captive breeding program because the North American elephant population is not sustaining itself,” Zoo Director Michael Fouraker said. “Current breeding rates suggest that in 45 years only 50 female elephants may populate zoos. Which, in simple terms, means without successful elephant births in the coming years, the North American Asian elephant population will face near-extinction.”
Only an estimated 35,000 Asian elephants are left in the wild. If the Asian wild continues to disappear and the elephant population remains on the decline, it is possible that the North American captive elephant population will be the only viable population of Asian elephants on the planet.
Through the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & BaileyCenter for Elephant Conservation (CEC), Ringling Bros. has experienced great success in the breeding of Asian elephants, which are critically endangered. To date, 18 elephant calves have been born at the CEC, a number that is unparalleled by any other breeding program outside of Southeast Asia. This 200-acre, state-of-the-art facility is home to 28 elephants, including five adult bulls who are viable breeders.
“Because of our shared dedication to elephant conservation, this partnership is a natural fit,” said Tom Albert, Vice President of Government Relations and Animal Policy for Ringling Bros. “In addition to loaning the bull elephant to the Zoo, Ringling Bros. is proud to share the knowledge we have gained through years of successful Asian elephant breeding with the Fort Worth Zoo.”
Two Ringling Bros. bull elephants – Casey and Rajah – have been identified as good genetic matches for three of the Zoo’s female elephants. As Zoo management and Ringling Bros. determine which bull will be soon calling Fort Worth home, they are also seeking the opinion of the Zoo’s female elephants and the public. Today, Rasha, the matriarch of the Zoo’s elephant herd, picked between two pictures of the bulls. The public can vote for their favorite bachelor online at www. fortworthzoo.org. While choosing an elephant bachelor is fun, the plight of the Asian elephant and efforts to ensure its survival are issues both the Zoo and Ringling Bros. take very seriously.
About the Fort Worth Zoo: The Fort Worth Zoo is home to more than 400 animal species, a world-famous reptile collection and one a few breeding facilities for Asian elephants in the United States. The nationally ranked Fort Worth Zoo supports more than 20 conservation projects around the globe, and was awarded the American Zoo and Aquarium Association’s top conservation award for its work benefiting the Jamaican iguana and a second award for its work with the Puerto Rican crested toad. For more information on the Fort Worth Zoo, visit www.fortworthzoo.org.
About the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation (CEC): The CEC, a private facility wholly funded by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®, is a global focal point for the breeding, study and retirement of Asian elephants. Built in 1995, the Ringling Bros. CEC is a 200-acre state-of-the-art conservation facility in central Florida and is home to the most successful Asian elephant breeding program outside of Asia. To date, 18 Asian elephants have been born into the Ringling Bros. program, including two in 2005. For additional information on the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation, visit www.elephantcenter.com.
Both the Fort Worth Zoo and Ringling Bros. are founding members of the International Elephant Foundation (IEF), a non-profit conservation organization that is dedicated to promoting conservation of African and Asian elephants. Mr. Fouraker and Mr. Albert both serve alongside elephant experts from a number of other leading elephant institutions as officers and directors of IEF.