World Elephant Day

For the ninth year in a row the world celebrates World Elephant Day on August 12. The idea for World Elephant Day came from Canadian directors Patricia Sims and Michael Clark of Canazwest Pictures and Sivaporn Dardarananda, secretary general of the Thai Elephant Reintroduction Foundation. The first official celebration took place in 2012 under the direction of Patricia Sims. On this occasion the film "Return to the forest", made by Sims and Clark, was presented, which tells about the reintroduction of Asian elephants to their natural habitat in Thailand.

The purpose of the holiday is to draw public attention to the problem of extermination of elephants. Both African and Asian elephants are listed in the International Red List as endangered species.

The main reason for the reduction in the number of elephants is deforestation – the natural habitat of elephants, as well as human hunting for them for tusks and meat, persecution due to damage caused by elephants to crops.

Today is a good occasion to tell about the history and experience of keeping elephants in Mykolaiv Zoo.

During the 120-year history of our zoo we have kept both Asian (Lat. Elephas maximus) and African elephants (Lat. Loxodonta).

The first elephant of our zoo was the female Asian elephant Mary, who lived in the old territory of the zoo. She was presented to the first secretary of the CPSU Central Committee M. Khrushchev in 1955 by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

Later, when an enclosure for elephants was built on the new territory of the zoo, it became possible to keep more elephants. In 1977, an Asian elephant named Karat arrived at our zoo from Kyiv. It was one of the most beautiful elephants in zoos of that time, which was also famous for its long tusks, the length of which reached more than 1 m.

In 1984 African elephants appeared in Mykolaiv Zoo. The female elephant named Changa arrived with the consent of the Union State Circus on January 18, 1984 from Ryazan city from the attraction of People's Artist of the RS SSR S. Begbudi. Changa was very contactable, obedient, knew and performed many circus tricks and commands, which were asked in German, which greatly amused many visitors.

In addition to Changa, our zoo was inhabited by African elephants: Gilda, Nippl and Vanni.

For 10 years there were no elephants in Mykolaiv Zoo. All these years we have been waiting for the return of these giants to our collection. Of course, not only waited, but also managed to prepare for such an event.

Following all the recommendations and advice of EAZA zoological consultant Douglas Richardson, from 2017 to 2018, winter and summer enclosures were repaired and reconstructed. The winter enclosures have been overhauled and updated with heating, water supply, new decor, etc. Another summer enclosure with an elephant bathing pool was completed, a canopy was installed, new places for feeding elephants with elements of habitat enrichment were equipped, as well as for carrying out the necessary manipulations.

Radical changes were made in the structure of elephants' diets. The amount of roughage was increased, based on the experience of diets of elephants in European zoos and Kharkiv Zoo.

And so, in 2019, two male Asian elephants – Dinkar and Shanti – came to Mykolaiv Zoo from Hungary.

The animals were transferred under the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).