I thought I would share some thoughts with you all concerning our wonderful pair of elephants, Tina and Jewel. I have been lucky enough to be a part of their training and care from the time that they arrived at the San Diego Zoo in August 2009. They have done so well since arriving here. Both are thriving, are in great health, and seem to really enjoy their days roaming Elephant Odyssey. I am happy to say that Jewel has completely recovered from all her dental surgeries and can be seen daily doing what she does best—EATING! She has gained a little over 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms) since she arrived. Yes, 1,000 pounds! She looks so much better than when I first saw her. Tina is also thriving; her weight gain has leveled off, and she, too, is in great shape.
Both of them have responded well to their new training method, protected contact (a positive reinforcement training system), are quite good at their daily routines, and the vets are able to work around them with no problems. They transfer easily throughout the Elephant Odyssey exhibit complex, and both work very well with all the keepers. We have done some introductions with other elephants here, but neither of them have really had much time to interact fully with the others. Whenever they are apart for short periods of time, they come together and vocalize like a pod of dolphins: lots of squeals, squeaks, and squawks. Try saying that three times quickly!
We are very proud of the progress these two have made since joining our group of elephants. I can say without a doubt that they are in far better shape now than when they arrived over a year ago. It has been a real pleasure helping them enter this new phase in their lives.
Ron Ringer is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read his previous post, Elephant Introductions Continue.
Correction: This blog was attributed in error to Rod Owlett, an animal care manager at the Zoo. Our apologies to Ron Ringer! Rod thanks everyone for your interest in the elephants here at the San Diego Zoo and your thoughtful and caring responses to our blogs.