Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Happy Birthday Zuri!

We hope someone around here has a couple elephant-sized candles on hand because today marks a very special day at Hogle Zoo - Zuri's 2nd birthday!

It's hard to believe that it was two years ago when a tiny elephant made her way into our world. But in two years, some truly incredible things have happened as we've watched Zuri progress from elephant baby to elephant two year old.

For starters, while Zuri started out much like any other baby - eating, sleeping, and staying close to mom - she's progressed in her two years. Yes, she still likes to eat, sleep and be close to her mom, but she's also having a lot of fun training with her keepers. Each day her keepers work with her to do things like showing her feet, spinning, stretching out, opening her mouth, and much more.

All of these movements enable her keepers to check her whole body every day to ensure she continues growing as a healthy young elephant.

One other thing you may notice now that wasn't exactly visible even half a year ago is Zuri's tusk! Yes, you can see it on the left side of her face and it is growing steadily. Pretty soon her other tusk will poke through and you'll be able to see them both before you know it.

Zuri has also grown to be very social with a special lady at Hogle Zoo - Dari! Zuri and Dari were finally introduced to each other, and it just so happens that they enjoy spending time together.

And, now that she's big enough, Zuri has been spending some of the hotter summer days in the pool yard, where she has been seen cautiously dipping into the shallow parts of the pool under the careful watch of mom.

A lot has happened in two years, and we're sure we will be saying the same thing another two years from now! But for today, a very happy 2nd birthday to our little girl Zuri!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Three's Company

It's a moment everyone has been waiting for, and finally happened this month.

It was a bright, sunny morning. Both the Kopi and Working yards at Elephant Encounter were open and full of food (a helpful distraction for a first interaction) when the doors were opened and Dari, Christie and Zuri all ran outside to be together for the first time.

The big step was something for which Hogle Zoo had been planning from the time of Zuri's birth.

The first hurdle for Utah's favorite baby elephant was size. Her animal care team put a lot of weight on, well, Zuri's weight. A healthy size and weight would mean Zuri could fend for herself should the resident matriarch, Dari, decide to try any roughhousing.

Once the tyke was the right size, the elephant keepers wanted to give Zuri a protected environment in which to interact with Dari. This involved introducing the two with protective barriers between them. It gave them a chance to interact with sight, sound and smell before moving on to the moment of touch. And, to everyone's delight, the interaction went well.

Next up was time for interaction between Christie and Dari. You might be wondering, if they spent time together before Zuri's birth, why would they need to be reintroduced. Well, it's similar to when two humans haven't seen each other for a year. There's an initial phase of readjustment. But, of course, the ladies did just fine and paved the way for the moment everyone was waiting for.

The trio made their way out into the yard on the morning of their first time together, and it couldn't have gone any better. Zuri spent time following Dari around, playing with her mom Christie, and eating all the food she could get her trunk around.

The three have continued to spend time together as a herd and Dari has resumed her matriarch role with Zuri now looking to her, as well as to her mom, for direction. And, if you were to ask one of the keepers at Elephant Encounter, they'd tell you that now Zuri spends a lot of time with Dari, and the two seem to truly enjoy each other's company.

With this big step accomplished, Zuri now has other achievements to reach in her future. Namely, pool play. Zuri has spent time with Christie in the pool yard, and has even dipped her toes into the shallow end pf the pool, with the water dropped to a baby elephant appropriate level. The hope is that soon, Zuri will venture all the way into the water and be able to enjoy a cool spot in the warm summer months.

And as for the three of them, chances are you'll be seeing them playing together more and more as summer stretches on at Hogle Zoo.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

It's Summer Fun For Zuri!!!

At a resounding 18 months old and weighing in at nearly 1,500 lbs, it's just plain fun to watch Zuri, who is growing further and further away from that 251-pound baby we all met in the fall of 2009.

And, now that things are finally heating up here in Utah, you can see Zuri on a daily basis at Elephant Encounter where she'll likely be busy playing with her big, red boomer ball. The cute little elephant isn't quite big enough to walk over the ball yet, much like her mother can, but she sure tries and quite often she can be seen getting high-centered atop the ball and clumsily rolling of and back on to her feet.

Working with her trainers daily, Zuri is learning new behaviors that help to keep her healthy. Since you saw Zuri last summer she has learned to show her caretakers the bottom of her feet so they can make sure nothing gets stuck in them. She also opens her mouth wide so they can peek inside and check on her dental health.

Two special times each day at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. you watch Zuri do these and other behaviors during the Pachyderm Program. The Program is a great place for guests to learn what it takes to keep an elephant healthy and happy, as well as what the keepers do on a day-to-day basis.

But, if you aren't able to catch that, chances are you will get to see her in her yard doing something funny, and once she really tires herself out she'll lay right down at her mother's feet and nap.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tusk Time!

While most parents treasure the appearance of a child's first tooth, at Utah's Hogle Zoo we treasure a more rare moment above a molar breaking through the gum - the appearance of an elephant's first tusk. Just this week, Zuri's tusk on her left side appeared, marking yet another landmark in her growth.

"We're really happy to see her first tusk come through," Elephant Manager Doug Tomkinson said. "It's yet another step in her progress as a young, growing elephant. It will be really exciting when everyone is able to see it."

Much like our human teeth, tusks are more than a decoration, they are a functional tool. When her tusks are grown, Zuri will be able to dig, as well as better move and manipulate a variety of the objects in her yard.

As of now, the tusk is the size of a pencil, but this is just the start. The length, size and growth rate of Zuri's tusks are hereditary, but if Tomkinson had to make a guess, chances are you'll get to see them some time this summer.

But, for now, we're just watching it grow and waiting for the other one to appear as well. In the meantime, we're happy to report that Zuri surpassed the 1,300 pound mark and stands at 4 feet 8 inches tall.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Baby it's cold outside

Baby it's cold outside… really! But with the cold comes the holiday season and snow, which Zuri seems to love when she can get her trunk on it.

Something else Zuri likes to do in the winter - stay warm. She has radiant heaters, as well as a large heated concrete pad in her outdoor exhibit, which usually do the trick to keep her comfy. But, when the temperature drops too much, she hurries inside because her skin is still baby soft - for an elephant, at least - and she needs the extra help staying warm.

With each snowfall, Zuri gets to pop outside a couple times a day for fresh air and sunshine. She loves to plow through the snow. If you're lucky, you can catch her balling up piles of snow with her trunk and shoveling it into her mouth for a rather chilly winter treat.

Like most youngsters, Zuri loves the Christmas season. In addition to the ZooLights! that are all around, Zuri gets the occasional gift from her friends in Utah. If you're wondering what Zuri likes for Christmas, look no further than the Amazon wish list for her here. This page is filled with all sorts of toys with which Zuri likes to play - and eventually destroy thanks to her elephant strength!

Here's hoping you can catch her out and about on those sunny winter days this holiday season, because we know Zuri would love to wish you a Happy New Year in person!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's almost pumpkin time!

If you were here for last year's Boo at the Zoo, you may have seen Zuri smash a few pumpkins as she got into the Halloween spirit. But, you may also have noticed that Zuri was much more fond of squashing the seasonal gourds than she was of eating them.

This year, Head Elephant Keeper Doug Tomkinson thinks all of that will change, thanks in large part to Zuri's new propensity for eating, as opposed to nursing. That's right, Zuri has ramped up her eating habits to involve many more solid foods, and less nursing.

Furthering the likelihood that our little girl will smash, and then eat her pumpkin treat is the fact that Zuri has been busy enjoying squash in her diet lately.

"She had pumpkins last year, and all she knew was to smash them," Tomkinson said. "But now she's eaten large squash and she'll likely have a better time eating the pumpkins."

So, for those of you out there who want to see Baby Zuri and her mommy smashing pumpkins and enjoying treats for Halloween, look no further than Boo at the Zoo on Oct. 30 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be candy for kids 12 and under, and a lot of fun going on in Zuri's neck of the woods. Remember, Boo at the Zoo happens rain or shine!

And, sorry folks, she won't be wearing a costume. They don't make a ballet tutu in her size!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

It's Official!

Zuri hit the 1,000 lb mark today. Of course, that's a mere fraction of what she will be some day, but it's exciting none the less!