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Elephant females Trong Nhi and Nhi Linh relocated from Rotterdam to Washington DC last weekend, arriving safely. It was a massive undertaking with a long preparation period. For the two elephant ladies and the international population management program, this is a fantastic opportunity. This collaboration with American zoos offers many new possibilities for better management and conservation of this endangered species in the future.

The transport went smoothly and successfully. The journey began in Rotterdam, travelling by road to Liège, and then by plane to New York. Once there, the unique transport was surprised with a police escort to the Washington Zoo to ensure smooth traffic flow. On Monday night, the two elephants were released into their spacious quarantine stable.

Population Management Program

Diergaarde Blijdorp has coordinated the elephant population in zoos affiliated with EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria) since 1992. As the European studbook keeper, we have been in close contact with the American studbook keeper for Asian elephants for some time. The intention is to strengthen ties between these two separate studbooks and perhaps eventually establish one worldwide studbook. By joining forces, we hope to make as significant a contribution as possible to the conservation of the Asian elephant.

Stronger Together

There is a wealth of knowledge and experience in Europe about keeping and managing a population of Asian elephants in zoos. In the last ten to twenty years, the elephant herds in the European Population Management Program (EEP) have reproduced very well. For this reason, population growth within Europe is even being slowed down at the moment. The situation in America is very different. There, too few offspring are being born, currently not even enough to maintain the zoo population. Since the population in Europe is actually growing too much and in America, it is shrinking, the idea has been conceived to bring fertile elephant females from the EEP to America. In this way, we hope to build a second successful reserve population.

The First Two Candidates

In our elephant herd, Trong Nhi and her daughter Nhi Linh are two excellent candidates. They do not belong to the Irma family line and have their own section next to the family group. Blijdorp was also already looking for a suitable accommodation for them where they can expand their own family line with offspring.

New Place in Washington

In Washington, Trong Nhi and Nhi Linh will have access to a large modern stay. They will also meet other elephants. If necessary, there is enough space to separate the elephants and still be able to offer good well-being. Trong Nhi and Nhi Linh were prepared for their journey months in advance. They were specially trained to make loading into the container easy and with as little stress as possible.

There has been intensive contact about the transport and the collaboration between Diergaarde Blijdorp and Washington Zoo. Animal keepers from Washington have spent a week in Blijdorp to get to know the animals and become familiar with their daily care. Two caregivers from Blijdorp and a veterinarian travelled with the elephants and will stay until Trong Nhi and Nhi Linh have completely found their way.

The elephant ladies were continuously provided with food and water during transport by truck and airplane and could even have trunk contact with each other.