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Auckland Zoo


​Burma

Date of birth: Late 1982 (celebrated in November)
Place of birth: Myanmar (formerly Burma)
Arrival at Auckland Zoo: May 1990
Height: 2.6metres
Weight: 3,100kg
Loves: Exploring new environments and her daily walks through the Zoo grounds with keepers - especially going into bush areas at the top of the Zoo where she can browse.
Food: Banana palm, sugar cane, and any sweet fruits and large fruit iceblocks.

About Burma

Now 34 years old, Burma has matured into a lovely gentle elephant  - but she's still very energetic and playful.

As she's matured, and also since Kashin's passing in 2009, Burma's interest in people has grown and she particularly enjoys the many visitors she regularly gets to meet.

Auckland Zoo's elephant team leader Andrew Coers, who heads up the Zoo's internationally renowned free contact elephant programme and has been in Burma's life for twenty years, says, "Burma really is an incredibly gentle elephant. She has grow​n more relaxed with age, but remains very switched on, and will happily manipulate new handlers to do the least amount of work but still gain food rewards! As well as being very clever, challenging, and at times, stubborn, Burma is really fit, and also adaptable and strong - both physically and mentally".

​​​Andrew says Burma's ability to cope so amazingly well, and rely more on her human family (the elephant team) until her elephant companions arrive, is impressive. He says it takes a very special elephant, and team, to achieve this. Burma's strength (both inner and physical) and the incredible bonds Andrew and his team have each built with Burma over the years, have all contributed to her coping so well and being so good.

​Anjalee

​Date of birth: 23 August 2006
Place of birth: Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, Sri Lanka.
Arrival at Auckland Zoo: June 2015​
Height: 2metres
Weight: 2,000kg
Loves: Anjalee absolutely loves to dust bathe and get dirty, especially when she's wet from a hose-down or swim. When training, like most elephants, including Burma, she is very switched on and clever.
Food: Bananas, watermelon and pineapple and while on Niue, has a big appetite for coconuts, vi (Niuean apple) and coconut palm.

About Anjalee

Anjalee is a very playful and inquisitive young elephant. Auckland Zoo's Elephant team leader Andrew Coers who worked closely with Anjalee for nine months (in Sri Lanka and Niue), describes her as having an inner security and independence that helped immensely in preparing her for her move to Auckland Zoo.

Anjalee, whose name means "Gracious gift", is a gift from the government and people of Sri Lanka. She was born in 2006 at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, located just northwest of Kegalle town in Sri Lanka's Sabaragamuwa Province.

Anjalee's mother, a rescued orphan injured in the wild, came to the orphanage with a severe injury to her hind leg. This injury meant that she would never have been able to survive back in the wild. ​She has also had other offspring at Pinnawala. Anjalee's father was born at Pinnawala - through the orphanage's captive breeding programme.

Anjalee was lived separated from her mother and in other elephant company for three and a half years, due to her mother being bullied out of the main herd.

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage - a major tourist attraction in Sri Lanka, has become home to over 70 elephants. Some of these elephants were victims of the past civil war and others have been impacted by loss of habitat and the resulting human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka.

Gifting a beautiful young elephant like Anjalee is a gesture of goodwill towards New Zealand and can free up space for other orphaned or injured elephants.

On hearing about Burma's situation, a Sri Lanka representative approached Auckland Zoo to see how they could help. Given Anjalee's history and personality, she is seen as a great companion match for Auckland Zoo's female Asian elephant Burma.

Through this gifting, Auckland Zoo has entered in to a long-term partnership with Sri Lanka's Department of National Zoological Gardens. This includes providing a five-year trainning and development programme to Sri Lanka's Zoological Gardens - covering curatorial, animal management, veterinary and technical skills.

Planning continues with Sri Lankan officials for the importation of a second female elephant from Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage as part of this partnership, and a second elephant expected sometime within the next two years.​

Transistioning Anjalee to Auckland Zoo's elephant programme

Auckland Zoo's elephant team leader Andrew Coers spent nine months working intensively with Anjalee (in Sri Lanka and Niue) - getting to know her and gradually introducing her to key aspects of Auckland Zoo's free-contact elephant programme, which is quite different to traditional programmes.

Elephants at Pinnawala are managed with techniques practiced by Sri Lankan mahouts for many centuries. While at Pinnawala, Andrew and visiting team members worked in cooperation with Pinnawala staff to progress transitioning Anjalee to Auckland Zoo's programme.

The process of Andrew and his team getting to know Anjalee to assisted her in feeling comfortable and secure in their company, and paved the way for her transition to Auckland Zoo.

Burma and Anjalee

Andrew says Anjalee's arrival at Auckland Zoo has been an exciting and pretty big change for Burma, as well as a new environment for Anjalee.

For Andrew, it's hugely satisfying to see the developing relationship and the changes in Burma.

"Burma's got really vocal, just like it was when Kashin was with us, and she's a lot more playful. It's really heart-warming to see the level of dialogue between Burma and Anjalee - from trumpeting and roaring to squeaks and chirps. It's brought a whole new vibe to the barn".​​

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