Herd of ele­phants – or none?

Central Leader - - News - By Heather McCracken

OP­TIONS for es­tab­lish­ing a herd of ele­phants at Auck­land Zoo are be­ing looked at by city of­fi­cials.

Fund­ing needs to be in­cluded in Auck­land City Coun­cil’s 10-year bud­get or the zoo faces the prospect of los­ing ele­phants al­to­gether.

When Kashin dies, the zoo will de­cide whether to send younger fe­male Burma over­seas or pur­chase other ele­phants.

New in­ter­na­tional stan­dards mean the zoo won’t be able to buy an­other an­i­mal un­less it es­tab­lishes a herd of at least six.

Coun­cil­lor Cathy Casey told the coun­cil’s 10-year plan di­rec­tion-set­ting meet­ing on Tues­day the dis­cus­sion should be made pub­lic.

“If we do noth­ing then there won’t be any ele­phants at Auck­land Zoo, and the pub­lic won’t get a say in it,” Dr Casey said.

“The de­bate must be had by the peo­ple of Auck­land.

“It’s a herd of breed­ing ele­phants or no ele­phants, be­cause there’s no in be­tween.”

A move to es­tab­lish a herd of ele­phants would re­quire a larger and more se­cure en­clo­sure, which would mean tak­ing land from neigh­bour­ing West­ern Springs park.

Zoo man­age­ment is con­sid­er­ing a herd of two males and sev­eral fe­males, re­quir­ing an ex­tra 7000 square me­tres.

Dr Casey said the project would be ex­pen­sive, and money needs to be al­lo­cated within the 10-year plan.

Kashin, who cel­e­brated her 40th birth­day on Sun­day, has been at Auck­land Zoo since 1973, while Burma, 25, ar­rived in 1990.

The two fe­males are New Zealand’s only zoo ele­phants.

Coun­cil­lor Richard Northey said there was a chance cen­tral gov­ern­ment could help with es­tab­lish­ing the herd.

“I think there’s a very good chance that we could get sub­stan­tial gov­ern­ment fund­ing for en­sur­ing that New Zealand adults and chil­dren still have ac­cess to live ele­phants.”

But deputy mayor David Hay said the zoo should de­cide its own pri­or­i­ties based on the fund­ing avail­able.

“The zoo does seem to be a bit of a bot­tom­less pit in terms of more projects.

“They’ve got to live within their means.”

And coun­cil­lor Bill Chris­tian, who is also chair­man of the zoo board, said there was no need for a breed­ing herd.

“We had Kashin at the zoo for a num­ber of years by her­self,” he said.

“They ex­ist pretty well by them­selves and there’s no need for any more ele­phants.”

Coun­cil­lors agreed of­fi­cers would pre­pare a re­port on op­tions for the next long-term plan meet­ing in March.

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