Our elephants are packing their trunks for a move to France … but don’t worry it’s all part of some exciting developments in our foot safari.
We’re at the start of our Foot Safari Transformation project and whilst we are busy working on these exciting new developments some of our animals will need to be moved from their current homes so we can undertake the building work. The first to move will be our herd of elephants, who will be moving to a new home in France at ZooParc de Beauval to participate in the European Breeding Programme and with the added benefit of getting away from all the noise and disruption too.
Plans are underway for a brand new state of the art elephant facility. This will see the team work in partnership with international experts in zoo design as well as experts in elephant care and husbandry, using the latest research and insights that have developed over the last 10 years, to provide the highest welfare standards.
The first phase of the development project will see the redesign of our current elephant house to accommodate a tower of Giraffe once the last of our elephants have left. The transfer to ZooParc de Beauval is being coordinated by respected elephant expert Alan Roocroft and Knowsley Safari Head of Animal Collection, Eveline De Wolf.
A number of potential homes for Ashanti, Nala, Juba & Tots were extensively reviewed and, following a thorough assessment, the 30 hectare, habitat at ZooParc de Beauval was selected as the best fit for our herd.
Eveline de Wolf comments: “We have been preparing for this move for the last year and our team of elephant keepers have been working closely with our elephants to make the journey as comfortable as possible for them.
“Our keepers will continue to work closely with the team at ZooParc de Beauval to ensure a smooth settling in period at their new home. Our elephants are scheduled to leave in Spring so we’re encouraging our visitors and local elephant fans to come and say goodbye before they embark on a new journey in France!”
We will be keeping members and guests up to date with the move and how the herd are settling into their new home over the coming months so keep a close eye on our website or sign up to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss out on the latest news.
Your Questions Answered
We’ve tried to answer some of the questions you may have below but if you have any other questions please let us know and we will add them to this page over the coming weeks. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and keep an eye on this page for updates.
Why do you need a new house?
There have been a number of developments in elephant research over the past 10 years meaning that updates to the existing house are needed to ensure the welfare of our herd in the future. We are investing in the most up to date technologies that will help the team to manage the health and wellbeing of our elephants.
Why are you moving the elephants?
Our elephants need to be in a breeding situation much sooner than our new house would be ready. Following the results of recent elephant welfare studies and after a thorough review we concluded that our current house is unsuitable to introduce a new bull. Therefore after careful consideration we felt it was important to move our female elephants to be part of a breeding herd.
There will also be extensive building work taking place over the next 18 months which would disturb the routine of the elephants and not provide them with the best environment to thrive. The move will minimise disruption and we know that the ZooParc de Beauval provide the physical, psychological and biological needs to allow our elephants to thrive and breed in the future.
How will you move the elephants?
Knowsley Safari has worked with experts in elephant welfare to design purpose built transport.
We have been preparing the elephants for this move for a number of months to ensure that they are comfortable with the loading process and therefore have a smooth journey to their new home. Look out for our keeper blogs about the keeper-led training that are coming out soon.
Is this move dangerous for the elephants?
The movement of any animal, large or small, carries risks. However, we have chosen to use a keeper-led transport method instead of hiring an external zoo transporter to load our elephants. Our keepers have been training and working with the herd for over a year ensuring the highest possible welfare prior to, during and after the transfer.
The elephants are on loan to their new home – how long is it expected to last?
The redevelopment of the foot safari & the build of the new elephant house will take place over the next 2 years. Once our new house is completed we will be directed by the needs of the European Breeding Programme.
What checks will be in place?
Our keepers are already working alongside the team at ZooParc de Beauval and will be making regular visits to see how the herd are doing over the coming months. We’ll keep our guests updated with their progress as they settle into their new home.
What about the new elephant house you said would be built in 2016?
That was our original plan, but early into the planning stages, we realised there was an opportunity to do something bigger and better. So that’s what we’ve done. We are now looking at combining the build of the new house with the wider transformation of the foot safari to create a much more immersive and interactive guest experience to complement our safari drive.
When are you moving them?
The elephants will be moving in Spring but we won’t be announcing the exact move dates as it all depends on the elephant and transportation plans will be adapted to suit them. To find out more about how we’ve been getting ready for the move read our keeper blog about the training process we’ve undertaken.
UPDATE: To ensure the elephants are fully prepared for their move and feeling comfortable in the crates we have postponed the move until this summer.
UPDATE: As of July, two of our elephants, Juba and Ashanti, have successfully completed their journey to France and are settling in at their new home. Our remaining two elephants, Tots and Nala, will spend the summer holidays here at Knowsley.
Why are they not going to Noah’s Ark were you sent your other elephant?
Noah’s Ark is currently a holding facility for young bulls so would not be the right home for our four female elephants.
Who will be taking the trip to France with them?
The elephants will have a full support team with them throughout the journey including their assigned keeper who has been working one to one with them for the past year. Our Head of Animal Collection Eveline de Wolf and elephant expert Alan Roocroft will accompany the elephants alongside our own Vet who has worked with the elephants for many years.
When will the new elephant house be ready?
We are currently working on plans and designs for a new elephant facility that encompasses all the findings of recent elephant welfare studies. We will be in a position to share them later this year, before submitting them for planning permission with a view to work starting onsite in 2018. We hope to have the new facility ready to open in 2019.
Will any other animals be leaving the park as part of this project?
There will be lots of movements of animals within the park but we have no plans for any other animals to leave the park.