Herd of elephants – or none?
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.