Earlier this month, an African elephant at the San Diego Zoo died of injuries her keepers suspect came from an aggressive attack by another elephant. Such a startling tragedy raises the question, “Could this happen here?” The Oklahoma City Zoo is home to two adult Asian elephants and one offspring, shown here at right. I asked the OKC Zoo spokeswoman, Tara Henson, if it was possible. She checked with Assistant Zoo Director Alan Varsik. Here’s what she said:
In domestic or wild animals…this could happen. It’s a day to day, ongoing process to maximize our chances for success in any social situation. In any accredited zoo, we are concerned about the physical and social well-being of all of the animals in our care. Interpreting their behaviors and looking for any indications of a behavioral issue is a constant. Any species in a social situation presents this challenge. This is on a case by case basis according to the species as well as the individual animals. Individual and species specific behaviors must be taken into consideration. There is a level of unpredictability in anything we do and we try to minimize that.