Keepers are celebrating a new arrival at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo after a bull elephant from Zoo Antwerpen in Belgium joined the Bedfordshire herd as part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).
Transporting the mammoth Ming Jung, who weighs in at just over four tonnes, required meticulous planning and co-ordination, as well as months of ‘familiarisation training’ for Ming Jung to get accustomed to his transportation facilities. The 12-year-old Asian elephant then travelled across the English Channel to the UK’s largest Zoo in a huge, custom-built vehicle complete with heating, lighting, food and water.
Team leader Stefan Groeneveld said: “After many months of careful planning and a safe, successful journey, it’s wonderful to be celebrating Ming Jung joining our herd here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. He has settled in really well and seems to be enjoying exploring his new environment, which we fill with activities such as barrels or moving sand dunes that we can hide his favourite foods in, to help bring out his natural behaviours.
“First impressions are that he is a quiet and reserved animal, but we’re really looking forward to getting to know Ming Jung’s character and personality over the coming months and soon he will be introduced to our herd of female elephants, Donna, Kaylee, Elizabeth, Lucha and Karishma, as part of the vital European breeding programme for Asian elephants.”
Ming Jung was born in April 2007 at Cologne Zoo, and since 2012 lived in a young bachelor herd in Antwerp. Now he has reached breeding age he is able to be introduced to a female herd.
Stefan Groeneveld continued: “Ming Jung is a genetically important animal for the future of the species. He’s also already a huge animal, even at just 12-years-old, and he’ll continue to grow even bigger over the next few years.”
Visitors can see Ming Jung settling into his new home at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo – save 10% by booking in advance at zsl.org