Thursday, October 16, 2003

Toledo Zoo sends one of two elephants packing after rift over birth of calf

The Associated Press

TOLEDO - The birth of a baby African elephant at the Toledo Zoo has ended up creating friction between its two adult females, forcing the zoo to send one of them away.

Zookeepers said they had to send Rafiki away because she and Renee stopped getting along after Renee gave birth this spring.

"Renee was very protective of the calf," said Randi Meyerson, the zoo's mammal curator.

When Renee and Rafiki were able to see each other through a door, "Renee hit the door, made aggressive vocalizations, and Rafiki fled to the other side of the stall," Meyerson said.

Rafiki was shipped out Tuesday to the North Carolina Zoological Park in Asheboro, N.C.

Rafiki and Renee had been companions since Rafiki arrived in Toledo in 1986. They spent most of 1999 in Pittsburgh for an unsuccessful attempt to become pregnant by a bull elephant.

They were inseminated artificially later and spent their 22-month pregnancies together. They took mud baths together. They exercised together.

Rafiki's full-term pregnancy ended in a stillbirth in July 2002. Nine months later, Renee gave birth to Louie.

Zoo officials said there is a male elephant at the North Carolina zoo that they hope Rafiki will mate with.

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