2 elephants staying together, after all

Jan. 19, 2012 at 11:43 AM
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TUCSON, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Two elephants who have been together 30 years at an Arizona zoo will both go to San Diego after a plan to separate them drew criticism, officials said.

Connie and Shaba will be moved to the San Diego Zoo's Elephant Odyssey exhibit, the Arizona Star reported.

Animal activists, along with former game show host Bob Barker, opposed Tucson officials' plan to ship Connie, an Asian elephant, to San Diego without Shaba, her African elephant companion, who was to stay at the Reid Park Zoo in San Diego.

Reid Park Zoo plans to establish new herds this year, and accreditation standards forbid mixing Asian and African elephants to do so. Reid Park Zoo officials said Connie couldn't stay at the zoo after it gets a herd of breeding African elephants from San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Shaba was to be integrated into the new herd in an exhibit opening in the spring.

"I am glad we found a solution that will keep Connie and Shaba together and provide them with excellent care," Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said in the news release. "This is a really good result for Connie, Shaba and the Tucsonans of all ages who love them."

Reid Park Zoo spokeswoman Vivian VanPeenen said the San Diego Zoo elephant exhibit includes a single African elephant with its Asian herd, so both Connie and Shaba can be moved there without violating accreditation standards.

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