Elephant family thrives, increases herd in Tucson

In 2012 Tucson attracted a one of a kind family
Posted at 7:32 PM, Oct 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-04 00:51:11-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — In 2012 Tucson attracted a one of a kind family.

"Tucson has become a really great environment for them," Cassie Dodds, of Reid Park Zoo, said.

That family started settling roots here, bearing their own native Tucsonans.

"They've gained a lot in their herd, they've grown, been able to successfully reproduce."

Dodds has been with them most of their time here, she's the elephant area manager.

Her job has been to make Tucson feel like home, South Africa.

"We give them a lot of different foraging opportunities for them to look and search for their food, to travel around their habitats, to be with different social groupings."

Like most local families there's mom and dad: Samba and Mabu, brother and sister: Sundzu and Nandi, youngest of the bunch and Lunglie, a surrogate aunt.

"Nandi and Sundzu, her brother, will spend a lot of time sparring and playing and doing general calf behavior, which is great for them to learn how to socialize," Dodds said.

While the kids enjoy their time together, their bond is with mom and dad, especially father and son.

"Those two just want to spend time together. They spend a lot of time together sparring and learning how to be a bull."

With a new baby joining the family next spring, Nandi's bond with her mother is changing, she's no longer nursing.

"It was a struggling process for her, it took a while for her trying to nurse and her mom pushing her away."

Some growing pains, but otherwise a stable and happy life for these Tucsonans.

"I think the most important thing that they've achieved over the last seven years is getting really involved in the community."