Help us home elephants
Zoos SA calls on South Aussies and all elephant lovers to help raise funds to home Asian Elephants at Monarto Safari Park as plans to build an amazing habitat for initially three Asian elephants are revealed!
To donate and find out more: elephants.monartosafari.com.au
Three elephants from Perth and Auckland zoos could potentially become founders of a South Australian herd where they would socialise and roam at the largest open-range safari in the region. In collaboration with the two Australasian zoos, Monarto Safari Park’s new habitat will give initially the three Asian elephants a ‘forever home’ that meets their complex social structure needs. As many as five elephants or more could eventually stomp the Monarto plains.
The three elephants most likely to be the first to arrive? Meet Burma, Permai and Putra Mas; three much-loved Asian Elephants. With female elephant Permai described as ‘cheeky and mischievous’, Burma described as ‘playful and a gentle giant’ and bull Putra Mas as ‘living up to his name’s meaning of golden prince and known for trumpeting loudly when happy’, the plans mean there’s much to wrap one’s trunk around!
“There are three elephants currently at Auckland Zoo and Perth Zoo that need a new home that reflects their longer-term needs to be living with other elephants. Monarto Safari Park can offer this and more. We’ve been working really closely with our counterparts at the zoos and others within the Asian Elephant regional breeding program to make the magic happen. There’s just one thing in the way of our vision – we need to raise $2.025 million and fast! And that’s why I’m hoping that the community will get behind our fundraising and donate to bring them to South Australia.” said Zoos SA CE, Elaine Bensted.
“As a conservation charity, we want to work with fellow accredited zoos to provide the best home for the elephants where they can live with other animals as part of a herd structure. The prospect of having elephants at Monarto Safari Park is not only exciting, it’s the right thing to do for these elephants.
“While many believe that we are Government-run, we are not. We are a private conservation charity and so to make this happen we need to fundraise and we are hoping that the local and wider community will get behind us and the gorgeous elephants. Not only is it a huge amount to raise there’s also limited time with an imminent deadline as ultimately these elephants need new homes whether it’s with us or elsewhere.
“The elephants come first. There’s no doubt about that. Both Perth and Auckland zoos have been very open about the elephants needing to find ‘forever homes’ that meet the elephants’ long-term needs.
“South Australia has a long-standing history of having elephants at Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park.
“When I first heard how excited our Zoo partners were about the possibility of Monarto Safari Park being able to provide a ‘forever home’ for Burma, Permai and Putra Mas I reflected on the fact that during Adelaide Zoo’s 140th birthday celebration in May so many people approached me and recollected their memories of elephants at Adelaide Zoo.
“The community remembers fondly the time when Samorn was at Adelaide Zoo and later moved to Monarto Safari Park. As a child I remember the feeling of awe seeing her. Of course, animal welfare and how we care for animals such as elephants has moved on. But the magic and emotion that these enormous yet gentle and intelligent creatures bring out in us all is still very much alive. That’s why we are hoping the community will want to see the three elephants at Monarto Safari Park and get behind our fundraising,” finished Elaine.
Within Australia, the Asian Elephant regional breeding program has experienced immense success, with eight calves born since 2000, and three calves born in the last 12 months alone.
The establishment of a new herd in South Australia will increase capacity within the region, making room for more animals to be born into safe habitats with socially appropriate herd structures.
The new move would also potentially provide an excellent long-term outcome for Burma, Permai and Putra Mas by providing them with a suitable social structure that is closer to what they would have in the wild.
It’s estimated there are less than 52,000 Asian Elephants remaining in the wild, with the world losing 50% of Asian Elephants in the last 3 generations. This makes regionally coordinated conservation programs more critical than ever.
Asian Elephants deserve to be saved from extinction. With Asian Elephants continuing to face threats in the wild, a long-term collaborative commitment to the species is crucial to ensuring the species remains for generations to come.
Increasing the capacity for the breeding program enables more people in Australia to learn about elephants and support the vital conservation work.
“This is a mammoth day in history for Asian Elephant conservation,” said Claire Wright, Acting Executive Director of Perth Zoo.
“We know the Western Australian community cares deeply about Permai and Putra Mas, and we are ecstatic to have found the perfect forever home for them.
“While the staff at Perth Zoo have always provided exemplary love and care to the two elephants, we have been very open that the pair’s social needs come first.
“Perth Zoo’s animal experts have been meticulously exploring all options for both elephants, and we are thrilled that Zoos SA is keen to create a third regional herd.
“A social herd structure is absolutely critical for Permai’s wellbeing, and we look forward to seeing her potentially finding a new friendship with Auckland Zoo’s Burma.”
“We are very, very excited about the possibility of Monarto Safari Park developing this new habitat for the regional elephant programme and really hope that this fundraising effort is successful so that it can become a reality,” said Kevin Buley, director of Auckland Zoo.
“Although Burma continues to do well at Auckland Zoo, in the longer-term we know that she needs to be with other elephants and a new herd at Monarto Safari park would be a brilliant option for her future forever home.”
Zoos SA’s giant fundraising plans will include a fun run and World Elephant Day celebrations as well as seeking support from local businesses and partners.
The ‘Help us home Elephants’ fundraising campaign kicks off today and will run through September and October. All donors can go to: elephants.monartosafari.com.au
Speical thanks to our corporate partner Electranet for their support of Asian Elephants at Monarto Safari Park.
The total cost of building the elephant habitat and transferring the animals to South Australia will be around $6.5million. With all three zoo partners contributing, this leaves us with a fundraising goal of just over $2million. We’re calling on the public to give generously and help build a long-term home for elephants in South Australia.
Meet the herd
About Permai and Putra Mas
Putra Mas and Permai arrived at Perth Zoo at around three-years-old in 1992. Living in a small herd with matriarch Tricia (who passed in 2022) and elephant Teduh (who passed in 2007), the elephants quickly developed strong friendships with their keepers, and their big personalities captured the hearts of the Perth community.
DATE OF BIRTH: 1989, 33 years old
PLACE OF BIRTH: Malaysia
ARRIVAL AT PERTH ZOO: December, 1992
WEIGHT: 3,925kg (at 31 May 2023)
Permai is best known for her mischievous and cheeky personality – she loves to be the centre of attention and she’s known among keepers as a bit of a rascal.
But through the cheekiness, she’s an incredibly loyal and affectionate elephant who loves companionship. She’s also an active gardener and likes to ‘help’ the horticulture team with tree pruning wherever she can – even though they don’t ask for it!
After the loss of matriarch Tricia in 2022, Permai felt deep grief. She leaned heavily on the company of her dedicated keepers, and while she’s regained her spark, she still misses her old elephant friend and the company of other females.
Now, Permai remains the only female elephant at Perth Zoo and she desperately needs a forever home with an elephant herd.
DATE OF BIRTH: 1989, 33 years old
PLACE OF BIRTH: Malaysia
ARRIVAL AT PERTH ZOO: December, 1992
WEIGHT: 4,760kg (at 29 May 2023)
Putra Mas translates to ‘golden prince’ and he’s certainly earned his namesake! He is as smart as he is cheeky, and he’s quick to vocalise and trumpet away when he’s happy.
Putra Mas has grown into an incredibly strong and remarkably intelligent bull elephant. In fact, his intelligence continues to blow keepers away!
While working with him from a safe distance, keepers say Putra Mas is able to understand new training programs very quickly and with ease. It’s incredible to watch him understand his keepers and play games with them like soccer and relay races.
Putra Mas has also played an important role in the species’ regional breeding program, introducing new and valuable genetics into the pool. In 2018, he sired a calf through artificial insemination, a female born in NSW.
While male elephants are solitary in the wild, Putra Mas needs more space than Perth Zoo’s inner-city site can provide.
DATE OF BIRTH: Late 1982 (celebrated in November)
PLACE OF BIRTH: Myanmar (formerly Burma)
ARRIVAL AT AUCKLAND ZOO: May 1990
Burma was born in 1982 in Myanmar (formerly Burma) where she spent her early years at a logging camp. She came to Auckland Zoo in 1990 at eight years old.
Now 40 years old, Burma has matured into a lovely gentle elephant – still very energetic and playful, but slightly less mischievous!
Auckland Zoo’s older female elephant Kashin became her constant companion until she passed away in 2009.
Asian elephant Anjalee arrived in 2015 (aged eight) before moving to Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Australia in March 2022. The two elephants enjoyed a friendship and each other’s company.
Thanks to the skills and dedication of the team at Auckland Zoo to meet Burma’s needs, she is continuing to do well while her team continue to work hard to find her a new forever home with an elephant family herd and environment that will best meet her needs and ensure her future long-term wellbeing.