Cleveland Metroparks Zoo introduced the newest member of the African Elephant Crossing herd last week, 29-year-old female Kallie. Kallie arrived in Cleveland on November 1 from the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium’s International Conservation Center in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. She is on long-term loan from the Philadelphia Zoo. While Kallie is acclimating to her new home, guests may be able to see her in one of the elephant parlors in the visitor center. Over the next several weeks the 8,100-pound Kallie will be carefully introduced to the other five elephants in African Elephant Crossing, and will eventually join them in the exhibit’s outdoor ranges. Kallie’s arrival is somewhat of a reunion, considering she once lived with three of the Zoo’s other elephants, Willy, Martika and Shenga, in Florida. She would go on to spend the most time with Willy, who was her traveling companion in the private entertainment industry for about 15 years. Willy, Kallie, Martika and Shenga were all part of a massive privately owned herd of elephants at eccentric millionaire Arthur Jones’ estate “Jumbo Lair” in Ocala, Florida. Jones, inventor of the Nautilus exercise machine, kept a large amount of exotic animals on his 550 to 600 acre property. Estimates of his animal holdings included as many as 98 elephants, a rhino, a gorilla and dozens of crocodiles and snakes. There’s even a strong possibility that Jones brought Kallie, Martika and Shenga to the U.S. on board the same 1983 rescue flight from Zimbabwe when they were younger than 2 years old. Martika was the first to leave Jumbo Lair in 1984, sold to another private owner. Shenga left in 1986. But Willy and Kallie were sold together in 1989 to the now defunct Four Bears Water Park in Michigan. They stayed together through their next move, to a private entertainment company called Zoomotion, working in various capacities until 1998 when Willy went to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Kallie started spending part of the year at the Philadelphia Zoo in 1999 and moved there full-time in 2004. Northeast Ohio’s most-visited year-round attraction, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. From November 1 through March 31, 2012, admission is discounted to $8 per person, $5 for kids ages 2 to 11 and is free for children younger than 2 and Zoo members. Parking is free. Located at 3900 Wildlife Way, the Zoo is easily accessible from Interstates 71, 90 and 480. To learn more, visit clemetzoo.com or call (216) 661-6500.
(Image: © Cleveland Metro Zoo)