Elephant Odyssey: One Year

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Jewel, on left, and Tina

Memorial Day has come and gone as we celebrate our one-year anniversary here at the San Diego Zoo’s Elephant Odyssey. What a year it has been! Asian elephants Tina and Jewel continue to settle into their new home with us. (See post Elephants Tina, Jewel at 8 Months.)

Jewel has had her second dental procedure (read about her first procedure in An Elephant Goes to the Dentist…). The tooth was very loose, so they decided to remove it and give the new tooth room to grow in straight
She cooperated like a champ, listening to her keeper through the whole procedure. By the next day, she was back to eating her normal diet and hanging out in the sun with her elephant buddy, Tina.

Every day we see new and fun aspects to Jewel and Tina’s personalities. As you may know, Devi is a true water-loving elephant, frequently playing in the pool throughout the summer. As it turns out, Tina is also a lover of water. Just the other day I was hosing her in the smaller pool in Yard 4. Tina got very excited, lying down and splashing her body and legs wildly for over five minutes. It’s one of those moments as a keeper that are pure joy to watch. After her bath, she finished her itch-and-scratch routine on the logs and rocks, which had her bending in some very interesting positions. Jewel also likes the water but to date has not shown as much love for it as Tina. Stay tuned!

Tina is also turning out to be a bit of a musical prodigy. Several of the elephants know how to play the harmonica, so I thought I would see what Tina would do if I gave it to her to play. She immediately started playing, but unlike the other elephants, she also started moving her head and singing along. As I later learned, this was a behavior she previously knew before coming to live with us. Next time you visit, you might get lucky and catch a tune.

For the future I plan to teach them both how to paint. Keep a lookout at future Zoo fund-raisers for one of their masterpieces!

Victoria Zahn is a senior keeper at the Wild Animal Park.