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Auckland Zoo's Asian elephant programme

Burma, our Asian elephant, going for a walk around the Zoo with her keepersAuckland Zoo is currently home to one Asian elephant, 31-year-old female Burma, who arrived from Myanmar (Burma) in 1990.

Burma's long-time companion, much loved 40-year-old female elephant Kashin, died in August 2009.

The Zoo holds elephants as high-profile conservation advocates, and our elephant management programme is recognised worldwide as highly progressive, and is used as a template for programmes at other zoos.  Integral to us having elephants is the support we provide to elephant conservation in Nepal, Sumatra and Sri Lanka.

Auckland Zoo and the Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA), is working to source elephant companions for Burma, as part of an international breeding programme.

The ZAA links over 90 zoos and aquariums across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific in a network for wildlife conservation, environmental education and wildlife research. For the ZAA's position on elephants at Auckland Zoo, click here.

To find out more information regarding the future of elephants at Auckland Zoo, click here.

Burma

Burma's dedicated team of zoo keepersWhile not able to breed, 31-year-old female Asian elephant Burma is healthy and still relatively young.

Since elephant Kashin's passing in August 2009, Burma is continuing to cope extremely well - mentally, physically and emotionally.  How well she is doing is testament to the management skills of the elephant team and the close bonds they have with her.

Elephants are highly social animals and need to live in a herd structure, and this is what we are working to achieve for Burma.

 

Elephants are amongst our most powerful and effective conservation ambassadors, with an extraordinary ability to connect with people and to inspire them to care.In the meantime, as well as making her days fun and challenging and being with her throughout the day, the elephant team and vet staff have installed cameras in both her inside and outside areas.  This means she can be monitored continuously overnight, giving staff the ability to pick up if she were to show any signs that she was not coping. 

Burma has been assessed by independent international elephant expert, Alan Roocroft.  Mr Roocroft describes Burma as a "happy and well-adjusted elephant" and was impressed with the Zoo's elephant programme, saying: "I found the elephant programme at Auckland Zoo to be of an impressive standard, and I rank it very highly in comparison to other similar programmes around the world."

Date of birth: Late 1982 (birthday celebrated in November)

Country of origin: Myanmar (formerly known as Burma)

Arrival at Auckland Zoo: May 1990

Burma's days are varied and stimulating, with workouts, walks around the Zoo and hikes up into the Zoo's steep forested areas. She's walking between 8km - 12km every day!

Personality: Burma is much like a cheeky teenager - very mischievous and energetic.

Favourite things: Loves banana palm and sugar cane, and sweet fruits like watermelon. Burma loves exploring new environments, and enjoys her daily walks around the Zoo. These are varied, and can involve going into other animal enclosures.

Painting is another activity Burma likes to do. It's not something that she does every day, but rather is just one of many fun and challenging activities keepers do with her.Painting is another activity Burma likes to do.  It's not something that she does every day, but rather is just one of many fun and challenging activities keepers do with her. 

"We can tell when her ears are flapping, her eyes are wide open and her paintbrush is getting a real workout, that she's having a lot of fun," says Auckland Zoo's elephant team leader, Andrew Coers.

Paintings done by Burma are framed and sold to raise money for the Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund. These can be viewed and purchased at the Zoo's Information Centre, or phone 09 360 3805.Paintings done by Burma are framed and sold to raise money for the Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund.  These can be viewed and purchased at the Zoo's Information Centre, or phone (09) 360 3805.

Supporting elephant conservation in the wild

Asian elephants in Bukit Tigapuluh National Park in Sumatra
Elephants at Auckland Zoo play an important role in connecting our visitors with wildlife, and inspiring them to care about wildlife and wild habitats, and enable us to advocate the greater conservation needs of the South East Asian region. The Zoo is also actively involved in supporting conservation projects in the wild Nepal, Sumatra and Sri Lanka.

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