Billy the elephant will be one of Shaunzi’s new friends. Courtesy Los Angeles Zoo

An Asian elephant that was recently relocated from Fresno to the Los Angeles Zoo after losing her longtime companion can now be observed by visitors.

The Asian elephant, 46-year-old Shaunzi, was born in Thailand in 1971 and spent much of her youth in the Cristiani Bros. Circus.

Shaunzi had lived at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo since 1983 alongside another Asian elephant named Kara, who died June 7. She was transferred to the L.A. Zoo on June 27 so she would not have to be alone.

“We are amazed at how well Shaunzi is settling in and how content she seems in her new space,” said Josh Sisk, the zoo’s curator of mammals. “She has been very responsive to her new animal keepers, and she spends a lot of her day giving herself baths, experimenting with the different enrichment items in the yard like the large tires and boomer balls, and sniffing around the habitat. She can smell the other elephants and is definitely aware they are in the vicinity, as they are with her.”

Sahunzi joins three other Asian elephants — Billy, Tina and Jewel — at the zoo and is being quarantined in the Thai yard at the Elephants of Asia exhibit through the end of July. Zoo officials said she will slowly be introduced to other parts of the exhibit and to the other elephants.

“We want to let things come together through a natural progression,” Sisk said. “We’re excited because this is one more step toward building our herd.”

— City News Service

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