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Published on July 10, 2024
Oakland Zoo's Last African Elephant, Osh, Set for New Beginnings at Tennessee Sanctuary After 75 Years of Housing ElephantsSource: Oakland Zoo

Oakland Zoo has announced a significant shift in its elephant program. Osh, the remaining African elephant in residence, is slated to move to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee this fall. This decision ends an era, marking the first time in 75 years that the zoo will not house elephants, a move prompted by the need to provide better social opportunities for these highly social animals. Despite searching for a year with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for a suitable companion for Osh, none were found, according to CBS News San Francisco.

Officials at the zoo described the move as heartrending but necessary for Osh's welfare. The 30-year-old elephant will be transported in a specially designed air-conditioned trailer to ensure his comfort during the 40-hour trip. Once in Tennessee, he will join his former companion, Donna, and other African elephants in a habitat with "thousands of acres," providing ample space and a more natural environment. The zoo has already started training sessions to prepare Osh for his journey, and members of the sanctuary's team will visit Oakland Zoo to start forging a bond with Osh, as reported by CBS News San Francisco.

Meanwhile, a specific area in the sanctuary, known as the "bull barn," is being prepared for Osh and another male elephant named Artie. This will enable initial interactions across fence lines for them and could eventually lead to opportunities for Osh to meet female elephants. The Oakland Zoo will also begin a fundraising campaign to support Osh's transition and to further its commitment to elephant conservation, adding to the zoo's extensive history of efforts in this area, as per KRON4.

"Although it’s difficult to say farewell to Osh, we’re filled with joy knowing he’s found a new home at The Sanctuary," said Colleen Kinzley, Vice President of Animal Care, Conservation, and Research at the Oakland Zoo, as cited by KRON4. Following Osh's departure, the zoo plans to repurpose its former habitat, potentially bringing in a different species and continuing its efforts in animal welfare. The public is invited to visit and bid farewell to Osh in the months before he embarks on his trip to The Elephant Sanctuary.