Three new elephants will make their public debut Monday at the National Zoo.
Asian elephants Kamala (39), Swarna (39) and Maharani (23) arrived safely at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo on May 23, according to a news release.
They are on loan from the Calgary Zoo in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and will join the Zoo’s herd of four Asian elephants Ambika (66), Shanthi (39), Bozie (38) and Kandula (12).
The three female elephants left the Calgary Zoo on May 20, in two trucks accompanied by an expert animal care team, including keepers and veterinarians from both zoos.
The team observed the elephants during the 60-hour, 2,500-mile international trip via television monitors and stopped every few hours to give the elephants food and water and to ensure they were doing well.
Elephant fans can view the new elephants immediately on the new elephant cam, which operates in real time and will be on 24 hours a day.
Kamala and Swarna were both born around 1975 in Sri Lanka. Maharani is Kamala’s second calf and was born July 14, 1990, at the Calgary Zoo. Records indicate that Kamala, Swarna, Bozie and Shanthi all lived at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka for a time. There is no way to definitively determine if Kamala and Swarna will recognize Bozie and Shanthi, the zoo says.
The elephants will make their home at the zoo's Elephant Trails, which opened last year.
It includes space for socializing, training and playing while providing the elephant staff safe access to the animals. Philanthropist David M. Rubenstein contributed $2 million, enabling the National Zoo to bring the elephants to Washington. The funds covered the costs of elephant transportation, elephant keepers’ travel and training, health care and veterinary assessments, facility upgrades and in situ conservation.
Rubenstein, co-chief executive officer of The Carlyle Group, has been a member of the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents since 2009.