Zoo elephant returns to the wild

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  May/June 2013:

CAPE TOWN––“Thandora,  the elephant recently re-introduced into the wild at Gondwana Game Reserve after being held in captivity for 23 years,  is slowly acclimatising to her new home,”  Wallace du Plessis of News24 in Johannesburg, South Africa reported on April 29,  2013.  

Orphaned by a 1989 killing at Kruger National Park,  when she was about five years old,  Thandora was held at the Bloemfontain Zoo in Mangaung Municipality until March 5,  2013,  when she became the first known long-time captive elephant to be returned to a quasi-wild existence.

Since 2009 Thandora had been alone,  “after her companion had to be relocated due to extreme aggression,” recalled National SPCA of South Africa spokesperson Chris Kuch,  who was involved in negotiating her release.  The release itself is supervised by Conservation Global.

Thandora shares her environment at the Gondwana Game Reserve with two other adult female elephants,  a baby elephant,  and at least one rhino.  As she regains muscle tone and stamina,  after 20 years with limited exercise opportunity,  and bonds with the other elephants,  she will gradually be given access to more of the 11,000-hectare reserve.

The Gondwana Game Reserve is about a dozen times larger than the elephant habitats at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee,  just outside Hohenwald,  and the Ark 2000 sanctuary near San Andreas,  California,  operated by the Performing Animal Welfare Society.

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