Elephants packing trunks for new home

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, August 29, 2010

Don’t they know two’s company and three’s a crowd?

The “they” I’m talking about are the Association of Zoos andAquariums.

According to their standards, a zoo should have at least threeelephants in an exhibit. The Jackson Zoo only has two. ThereforeAfrican elephants Rosie and Juno are being sent to the NashvilleZoo before the end of the year.

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It all makes me a bit sad. Rosie, 33, and Juno, 31, have been atthe zoo a long time. Rosie has been there since 1977 and Juno since1982. Both elephants have spent the majority of their lives inJackson.

Many, many children, including my own and my grandchildren, havewalked the paths at the Jackson Zoo and “ooohed and ahhhed” overthe world’s largest land creatures.

Jackson Zoo officials said in order to house more elephants itwould need to spend between $8 and $10 million. They haveconsidered it, but in these economic times they’ve decided a largerelephant habitat is unfeasible at this time.

According to zoo records, two Asian elephants have been housedat the zoo since at least 1923. It’s a shame this long-standingtradition will come to an end.

I’m happy that Rosie and Juno will be going to a more modernfacility in Nashville, but I’m really going to miss seeingthem.

When you go to the zoo you expect to see a few certain types ofanimals, among them are elephants. I also expect to see monkeys,giraffes, tigers and lions.

Last summer was the first time I’d been to the zoo in severalyears and quite a few exhibits had changed and expanded. They nowhave a few penguins, which is high on my daughter’s list ofmust-sees. They also had some very modern viewing windows to thechimpanzees, otters and a few other animals I can’t recall.

Last year the zoo was celebrating an anniversary, its 90th. Itwas fun to look at all of the old photographs patrons of the zoohad loaned for the special event. They took me back to the dayswhen I was a young visitor at the zoo.

The zoo has quite a history, and for relatively a low price is agreat family adventure.

In 1919 the zoo began with just a few animals: a cage ofrabbits, a few firemen’s pets and some animals native toMississippi, like foxes, squirrels, deer, raccoons and alligators.They were housed in the Central Fire Station in downtownJackson.

A couple of years later the Jackson City Council voted to movethe zoo onto land the city acquired from Samuel Livingston severalyears earlier in 1916 and it became known as the Livingston ParkZoo.

Over the years more animals were acquired and cagesinstalled.

Many of the exhibits and buildings were built during the WorksProgress Administration (WPA) in the 1930s and ’40s, some of whichare still standing today – like the castle and the Elephant HouseCaf√©.

The zoo has also gone through many name changes over its 90-plusyears existence.

I remember at one time the castle was home to the monkeyexhibit. I remember as a youngster standing and watching inamazement as the small creatures jumped and played at the very tiptop of the structure. On my last visit, I didn’t see any creaturesliving at the castle. The monkeys now have a more modernhabitat.

Even at our age, my husband Dennis and I are suckers for zoos.We’ve traveled to several states and visited many exhibits. Ifthere’s a zoo chances are we are going to make a visit before weleave that area.

I expect Dennis and I will have to make a trip to Nashville nextyear to visit Rosie and Juno in their new home. We’ve never visitedthe zoo there and I hear they have a very nice one.

I hope Rosie and Juno like their new habitat and won’t be toohomesick. After all, we all know what great memories elephantshave. Maybe they’ll recognize Dennis and me when we visit!

And how was your week?

Graphics and Systems Director Tammie Brewer can be reachedat The DAILY LEADER at (601) 833-6961 ext. 144, by e-mail attbrewer@dailyleader.com or you can write to her at P.O. Box 551,Brookhaven MS 39602.