Head of the herd – Juba

As we say farewell to our elephants we thought this would be the perfect time to talk about the matriarch of our herd, Juba. Although she isn’t related to any of our girls, she has definitely taken on a motherly role!

As Juba’s assigned keeper in the move to France, Rebecca has seen all aspects of Juba’s personality. She’s shared her experiences here.

Turning to Juba

Elephants not only look after their own young but also the others in their close-knit herds. Juba is no different. With no offspring of her own, she has taken on the role as ‘Auntie’ to the two younger girls, Ashanti and Nala. Since the passing of Ashanti’s mother, the pair have been almost inseparable. Juba is our herd matriarch, meaning she is not only very caring but also strong. Although there are no threats to our girls here at Knowsley, if anything out of the ordinary does happen, Juba is the first to check it out, with the others coming to her for security and reassurance. Even with this responsibility, Juba does find time to wind down; during our routine foot washes she has been known to get so relaxed she’s actually fallen asleep!

The training challenge

As the head of our herd, when the transport carriers first arrived, Juba was the first to inspect. It took a few days before she realised the crates were full of bananas (even if she did walk in backwards at first!), but after this, she knew it was a positive place to be. Although quite content in the transport carriers, we soon realised that she was very aware of who was around her, so at first it was just me and Juba working together. Once her confidence had grown, we gradually introduced more keepers that she knew and trusted into our training to get us to where we are now. Whereas Ashanti followed our training plan perfectly, Juba required a few small changes to suit her individual needs. Due to her being a fully grown female, some things that would only take one keeper with Ashanti may require two with Juba – but it’s nothing our team can’t handle.

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Whose poo is this?

ZooParc de Beauval sent us some poo samples from their herd in order to help with the settling in process when they reach their new home. This helps the elephants get to know each other. Juba was the first to head over and take a look, assessing the situation like any matriarch would before their herd joined. Once Juba gave the all clear that there was no danger, just something new to explore, the other elephants followed to investigate. Elephants can tell a lot about each other from poo – Juba was particularly interested in the sample from the French matriarch, Marge, a female of similar age and background to herself!

Checking out their new home

Our elephants will be gradually introduced to their new herd. As Juba led the way with the poo samples, we believe that she will lead the others in France, reassuring our girls all the way whilst they get acquainted with the unfamiliar smells and surroundings, as well as their new friends. We’re sure Ashanti especially won’t be far behind her!

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For more information about our elephant move and the exciting new changes also taking place at Knowsley, keep an eye on our regularly updated Foot Safari Transformation Hub.

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