They are two of the first animals you see when you visit Niabi Zoo. Asian elephants, Babe and Sophie are the talk of the zoo and are getting even more attention after an expert report recommended that they be moved to a different zoo.
In the recent years, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on improvements to the enclosure that they stay in. But because of the climate here, the two spend a bulk of the year inside this very small space. The report suggested that the elephants be moved to a warmer climate.
“We want them to have the best life possible,” Zoo Director, Marc Heinzman says.
Heinzman says it is becoming more of a trend for zoos to not have elephants - neither the Detroit or Brookfield zoo have the costly animal but he says if they decide to move the animals, money is not the reason.
“Elephants are certainly a very expensive animal to have in zoos but certainly anything we are considering right now is really not related to cost. It’s more related to the welfare of the animals and what’s best for them.”
The money that had been going in to the enclosure will continue to go into a capital improvement fund that will go to other projects throughout the zoo.
No decisions have been made. The board will meet next month and discuss the idea as well as ask the expert questions.
It is possible that if they do move the elephants, the enclosed area would be fitting for another Asian species like rhinos.