The San Antonio Zoo has officially adopted Karen and Nicole, two Asian elephants, as companions for the long time Zoo resident Lucky, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Karen and Nicole, who were formerly with the now disbanded Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, have been residents at the Zoo on loan since 2016, as zookeepers wanted to make sure they were a good fit for the 58 year old Lucky, who had been alone for several years and was the subject of efforts by animal rights groups to remove her from the Zoo.
Elephants are very social animals, and the Zoo wanted to make sure they were a match. Zoo CEO Tim Morrow says not only did Nicole and Karen bond with each other, but they have invited Lucky into their circle. They are now known as the Golden Grils.
“Uniting Lucky with Karen and Nicole has been a wonderful match,” Morrow said. “Karen and Nicole were previously companions at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, so not only were we able to keep the two of them together, but we also helped them welcome Lucky into their circle. This was a critical point of evaluation for us to ensure a healthy emotional connection for all three elephants.”
Their adoption will be celebrated today, appropriately, with a Valentine's Day themed celebration.
“We know that Karen and Nicole will continue to be well-cared for at San Antonio Zoo and are very pleased and proud to take this next step in our partnership with them to support our shared commitment to conservation of the Asian elephant,” said Dr. Dennis Schmitt, Ringling Bros. Chair of Veterinary Care, Research & Conservation.
Zoo visitors can pay a visit to the Golden Girls at the Zoo's expanded elephant habitat.
“Karen, Nicole and Lucky have formed a special bond that greatly enhances the quality of their lives,” said Morrow. “Through this and their connection with the public, we get the chance to educate people about the Asian elephants’ challenges in the wild while we pursue ways to save them and other species from extinction.”
PHOTO: BRIAN CARTER, SAN ANTONIO ZOO