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May 13, 2014 > Celebrating Elephants at the Oakland Zoo

Celebrating Elephants at the Oakland Zoo

By Denny Stein

Now that the Easter Bunny has been given her due, itÕs time to celebrate elephants. What do you really know about them? TheyÕre massive and grey, have tusks and a trunk; they come from Africa and India; are usually seen in zoos or a circus, unless youÕre lucky enough to be on safari.

But get a little closer and learn a little more. Under that thick hide is a sensitive, self-aware being that feels happiness, grief, compassion, and altruism. This isnÕt just fantasy or wishful thinking. Studies in the field have tracked and monitored families of elephants for years, and it is clear that elephants have matriarchal groups of several generations; they have feelings, memories, and loyalty. Yet despite what we know about elephants, they are still being hunted and killed for the ivory in their tusks. In fact, 96 elephants are killed every day in Africa, depleting our world of some of its most magnificent, sentient beings.

On May 17 and May 24, the Oakland Zoo will be ÒCelebrating ElephantsÓ with two important and fun events focused on educating the public and advocating for the conservation and protection of elephants.

On Saturday, May 17, the Oakland Zoo partners with the Amboseli Trust for Elephants to present Dr. Vicki Fishlock, Resident Scientist with the Amboseli Trust. Dr. Fishlock will be describing her study of the Amboseli elephant families, particularly her work on individual female elephants, their relationships and roles in the elephant family hierarchy and leadership. Dr. FishlockÕs blog is full of delightful and fascinating stories about the elephant characters that she follows ( Her presentation should be both heart-warming and informative. The evening will be enhanced by a silent auction and reception.

The next Saturday, May 24, will be the annual ÒCelebrating ElephantsÓ event. There are activities for the whole family, including learning to identify the ZooÕs four elephants and how to study elephants in the wild. Attendees can also take advantage of the once-a-year opportunity to tour the elephant barn and see these incredible creatures up close (tours are $10 for adults and $5 for kids under 16). The animal-free Circus Finelli will be performing in the Wayne and Gladys Valley ChildrenÕs Zoo (Clorox Wildlife Theater) at noon and 2 p.m. with comedy, acrobatics, juggling, dance, and live music.

All proceeds from these two days go directly to the Amboseli Trust for Elephants in Kenya to study and protect the elephant herds in Amboseli National Park. The events are also held in honor of all the elephants that have died due to the demand for ivory. Help protect elephants by visiting and signing the petition.

The Oakland ZooÕs mission is to inspire its visitors to take care of our worldÕs wildlife; to protect their habitats, water and food supplies; keep their ecology intact; and protect them from poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. ÒCelebrating ElephantsÓ is just one more way that our Oakland Zoo carries out, and includes us in, this mission.

Tickets for the presentation on May 17 can be purchased at the door for a suggested minimum donation of $40. ÒCelebrating ElephantsÓ activities on May 24 are included in the price of admission. General admission tickets for adults (15-64) are $15.75, seniors (65-79) and children (2-14) are $11.75, and children under age 2 and seniors 80 and older are free. There is a special discount for military families with current ID.

For more information on the ÒCelebrating ElephantsÓ events, contact Genny Greene at (510) 632-9525 ext. 167 or visit

Conservation Speakers: Celebrating Elephants
Saturday, May 17
6 p.m. Ð 9 p.m.
Oakland Zoo
Zimmerman Auditorium (park in lower lot)
9777 Golf Links Rd, Oakland
(510) 632-9525 ext. 167
Tickets: $40 suggested donation
Parking: $8

Celebrating Elephants
Saturday, May 24
10 a.m. Ð 3 p.m.
Oakland Zoo
9777 Golf Links Rd, Oakland
(510) 632-9525 ext. 167
Admission: $15.75 adults, $11.75 children (2-14), children under 2 are free
Parking: $8

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