Where are they now?
I can safely say all of us keepers love the animals. It doesn’t matter if we work with snakes or birds or elephants or naked mole rats or giraffes or alligators or lions. We care for and adore the animals immensely. So when they leave Zoo Atlanta (and us) for a new experience at a different zoo, it’s emotional for us. Although we support the Species Survival Plan® (SSP) breeding recommendations that help conservation of each species, and know how very important it is to the survival of the species, it’s still a bittersweet experience. Therefore, it’s so exciting when we get updates from keepers or management from the zoos where our animals went. I know that you, our guests, love the Zoo critters as much as we do, so I wanted to give you a few updates from some animals that have recently left Zoo Atlanta:
• Utenzi, our male black rhino, moved up to Cincinnati Zoo in July 2015. It’s hard to believe he’s been gone almost two years! I’m in contact with one of his keepers up there, and she loves him as much as we do! He moved up to Ohio as part of an SSP breeding recommendation and met his future girlfriend, Seyia, face-to-face in spring 2016. He knew exactly what to do, and they are expecting a calf any day now! Be on the lookout on Cincinnati’s page if you want to see our “grandcalf,” as we lovingly claim.
• Andazi, Utenzi’s former mate, moved to Little Rock Zoo March of this year. It was very hard seeing her go since she was our last rhino at the zoo for a while until the Grand New View project opens in 2019. But true to form, Andazi stayed very sassy at her new zoo for the first week. Her keepers there said that it took a little while for her to settle down with all the new smells and sounds, but she is now letting them train with her, enjoying habitat and bath time and is very sweet. They have yet to introduce her to the same space as her new boyfriend Johari, but I’m sure that will go swimmingly well!
• Jabari, Utenzi and Andazi’s calf, and our first black rhino born at Zoo Atlanta, moved to Lee Richardson Zoo in 2016. There have been posts online about the awesome enrichments that his keepers have made for both of their rhinos, and it’s great to see him doing so well and having so much fun with new enrichment. One of his keepers said Jabari is super-sweet and a “total love bug.” He also said Jabari used to be intimidated by his girlfriend Johari, but as his confidence grows, he now seems very into her and will hopefully be paired with her soon. (And yes, there are two Joharis in two of our rhinos’ lives!)
Moving on to our former bongo family:
• Lawson moved to North Carolina Zoo in 2015. He’s doing fabulously with all that land: a 30-acre habitat! He has already sired two beautiful calves named Mimosa and Mojito and is looking more and more like his handsome dad, Tambo, every day.
• Speaking of Tambo, at Jacksonville Zoo, he is still known to be the sweet handsome bongo that we were so proud to work with. When he goes into his new habitat, he will have two bongo girlfriends and some different yard friends: an Egyptian goose and two yellow-backed duikers. Fun times!
• Matilda went to Kansas City Zoo in October 2016. We got an update from the animal manager that he had never met a bongo that will actively seek out keeper interaction as much as she does. Our sweet Matilda will never change!
• And our last bongo calf, Bob, went to Norfolk Zoo in November 2016. He has a few females to choose from and has bred with two of them so far. The keeper there said he is very sweet and calm and likes to hang out with one of the younger calves.
Keeper III, Mammals
Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl