September 1, 2015, Colorado Springs, CO – Today, members of an elephant stakeholder committee from Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City, KS, made a recommendation to their city commission to relocate their two elephants, Missy (46) and Kimba (33) to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. The city commission approved the recommendation, so both zoos will now begin making plans to transfer the elephants. A transfer date will be determined later. Garden City’s Kimba will go by her nickname Kimba Lou, since Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is already home to an elephant named Kimba.

“Our Zoo’s Encounter Africa exhibit has the space to accommodate more aging female elephants,” Bob Chastain, President and CEO of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, said. “We extended an invitation to other Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions that are planning to phase out their elephant programs. Recently, Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City, KS began conversations about the future of their two aging female elephants, Kimba Lou, 33, and Missy, 46. After researching several possible new homes for the girls, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has been chosen as the future facility to care for the elephants in their elder years.”

Female elephants are highly social animals that live in groups or herds. Missy and Kimba Lou will have enhanced social opportunities at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. At 46, Missy is the fifth oldest elephant in an AZA facility. The median life expectancy of an African elephant in human care is 38; recently the oldest living elephant in an AZA facility, Dari, passed away at the Hogle Zoo at the age of 55. Currently, the oldest elephant in an AZA facility is 47. Not only will Cheyenne Mountain Zoo be able to care for Missy’s age-related conditions and keep her comfortable through her final geriatric years, but everyone involved feels it’s in the best interest of both elephants 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 Kimba Lou to go through a period of being alone after Missy inevitably succumbs to her advanced age.

“We are excited about the decision to move the two elephants from Lee Richardson Zoo to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo,” Chastain said. “Soon, our guests will see six African elephants, instead of four, in Colorado Springs.”

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.