— Cheyenne Mountain Zoo celebrates opportunity to integrate two new African elephants into their herd —

October 19, 2015, Colorado Springs, CO – Cheyenne Mountain Zoo welcomed two new elephants to their herd in the early evening of Sunday, October 18 – Missy, 46, and Kimba Lou, 33, arrived from Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City, KS. The two elephants are currently settling into their new home, so the Wilgruen Elephant Barn will be closed to give them time to adjust. The Zoo will make an announcement when the public can see them for the first time. In the meantime, guests can still visit Lucky, Kimba, Malaika and Jambo in their outside exhibit in Encounter Africa.

“We’ve been planning Missy and Kimba Lou’s move since the Garden City Commission approved their transfer, and we are thrilled that they’re here,” Jason Bredahl, Animal Care Manager, said. “We’re excited to start introducing them to the features of their new home, to our staff and eventually to our Zoo’s four other mature elephants.”

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo veterinary staff and animal care staff will be monitoring Missy and Kimba Lou very closely following their move. To help ease their transition and provide them with comfort, they are being accompanied by Lee Richardson Zoo animal staff for their first days on the mountain. “The girls,” as they’re known in Garden City, have received excellent care from Lee Richardson Zoo staff. Both the staff and the community are sad to see them go, but they know it’s the best decision for the elephants.

“The decision to move Missy and Kimba Lou to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was made entirely with their best interests in mind,” Tracy Thessing, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Director of Animal Collections, said. “Female elephants are highly social animals that live in groups or herds. Missy and Kimba Lou will have enhanced social opportunities at our Zoo. Additionally, Missy is the fifth-oldest elephant in an AZA facility. Not only will we be able to care for her age-related conditions and keep her comfortable through her final geriatric years, but everyone involved wanted to be able to integrate them into a new herd while they both appear to be in good health. Missy and Kimba Lou have been together for 30 years. No one wants one of them to go through a period of being alone if the other passes from old age.”

The median life expectancy for female African elephants in human care is 38.4 years.

Encounter Africa and the Wilgruen Elephant Barn were built with the Colorado Springs community’s support to address the needs of aging elephants. The barn boasts state-of-the-art features, including a crane-and-hoist system that can lift a disabled elephant and a care system that provides a safe area for weighing, veterinary care and husbandry training. The outdoor exhibit space is also beneficial for elephant health, as it offers many exercise opportunities. Features of the exhibit include a long walking path, built-in enrichment activities, a pool and a three-acre vacation yard, where the Zoo’s elephants can take a break from their duties as animal ambassadors and just be elephants.

“We are encouraging the community to help celebrate Missy and Kimba Lou’s arrival by sending a welcome message on the Zoo’s Facebook page,” Bredahl said. “After all, it is the community’s support that built Encounter Africa and made their move to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo possible.”


About Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoological Society was founded in 1926. Today, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, America’s ONLY mountain zoo, offers comprehensive education programs, exciting conservation efforts and truly fantastic animal experiences. It is Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s hope that guests fall in love with animals and nature, and take action to protect them. Of the 224 zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is one of just nine operating without tax support. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo depends on admissions, membership dues and donations for funding.