THUMBS UP FOR ANNUAL ASIAN ELEPHANT AWARENESS MONTH
July 28, 2021
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, in partnership with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), are proud to celebrate the third-annual Asian Elephant Awareness Month, created in 2019, to raise attention and awareness to the issues facing Asian elephants. Kicking off on Monday, August 2, and continuing through Tuesday, August 31, Asian Elephant Awareness Month is a collaborative effort among AZA-accredited members and international elephant conservation partners, featuring community conservation events, learning opportunities and an engaging social media campaign, encouraging elephant enthusiasts to share their support for Asian elephants using #ThumbsUpTrunksUp.
Why Asian Elephants?
While wild African elephant populations are rebounding in some areas, the number of Asian elephants remaining in the wild continues to decrease. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Asian elephants are an endangered species with many dangerous threats to their survival. The biggest threat includes human-elephant conflict as a result of habitat loss and poaching for ivory tusks, skin and meat. Asian elephants live in a very densely populated section of the world. As habitat decreases, they come in contact with people causing conflict because elephants raid food stores and crops. Elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV), a fast-moving elephant herpes virus, with an approximately 60% fatality rate, and habitat destruction due to palm oil plantations are other major threats to their populations.
“Because African elephants are most commonly top-of-mind in conversations concerning elephant conservation, the unique challenges Asian elephants face often go unnoticed by the general public,” said Rebecca Snyder, OKC Zoo’s director of conservation and science. “The ultimate goal of Asian Elephant Awareness Month is to engage with individuals and provide them with the information they need to shift the conversation and educate others about the dire situation facing Asian elephants today. By doing that, we can heighten awareness of their plight and present actionable ways for the public to get involved to ensure this beloved species’ future.”
#ThumbsUpTrunksUp Social Media Campaign / August 2 through 31
The #ThumbsUpTrunksUp campaign is a creative endeavor to encourage all wildlife fans to share their support of Asian elephants on social media from the comfort of their own home. Last year’s campaign messages reached over 12.5 million people, with hopes of reaching even more people this year. Wildlife fans are encouraged to give a “thumbs up” for Asian elephants throughout this global social media campaign. They are asked to include #ThumbsUpTrunksUp, tag @okczoo and share why they love Asian elephants in their captions. All shared photos will be featured on the Zoo’s Facebook page throughout the month.
Asian Elephant Awareness Month Fundraising Events
Check out this sweet offer! The Oklahoma City Zoo is partnering with Eileen’s Colossal Cookies for elephant conservation. Beginning Monday, August 2 and continuing through Tuesday, August 31, for every frosted elephant cookie purchased from Eileen’s, $.50/per cookie will be donated to the OKC Zoo in support of Asian elephant conservation. Cookies will be available to purchase individually or trays of 6 cookies. Customers that purchase a tray of 6 will be entered to win an OKC Zoo Asian elephant Wild Encounter experience good for four people plus Zoo admission, with one drawing at each of the two participating locations, Edmond (1333 N Santa Fe, Edmond) and Nichols Hills (7700 N. May Ave, OKC) locations.
“Ears” to celebrating Asian elephants! The Oklahoma City Zoo is excited to partner with Chicken N Pickle (8400 N Oklahoma Ave) and host a fundraising event, “Evening for Elephants,” in support of elephant conservation. Join the herd at Chicken N Pickle on Thursday, August 12, from 6 to 8 p.m., for a night of fun, good food and games. Chicken N Pickle will donate 10% of all sales from the event to support Asian elephant EEHV, elephant herpes virus, treatment and monitoring. Participants can meet members of the OKC Zoo’s elephant and rhino team and try their hand at playing a game of giant yard pong for a $3 donation per person to elephant conservation, a chance to win an “ele”rrific prize. For additional details, check out the Zoo’s Facebook.
Make a fashion statement for one of the world’s most beloved species, Asian elephants, with an exclusive conservation T-shirt! AZA SAFE: Saving Animals from Extinction is teaming up with the Elephant Mangers Association to “leave EEHV in the dust” and making these wild tees available during the month of August, Asian Elephant Awareness Month. Proceeds from the sale of all shirts will support EEHV, elephant herpes virus, treatment and monitoring. Purchase yours today at https://elephant-managers-association.creator-spring.com/.
World Elephant Day presented by Bob Moore Subaru / Thursday, August 12 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The OKC Zoo is celebrating World Elephant Day on Thursday, August 12, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the Zoo’s Sanctuary Asia elephant habitat near the ZooZeum. Presented locally by Bob Moore Subaru, this is a special day to raise attention and awareness to the issues facing Asian elephants through event activities and #ThumbsUpTrunksUp social media campaign. Event goers will be able to participate in a “trunk” load of event activities including an information station, interactive activities for kids with prizes, photo opportunities, elephant presentation at 2 p.m., Facebook live chats, a #ThumbsUpTrunksUp pledge station and more.
World Elephant Day is a global celebration that inspires individuals to help conserve and protect these gentle giants. The Zoo’s Sanctuary Asia’s elephant habitat is currently home to a multi-generational herd of seven elephants – Asha, 26; Chandra, 25; Bamboo, 54; Rex, 52; Kandula, 19; Achara, 6; and Kairavi, 2. Plus, Asha is pregnant and expecting her fourth calf in February 2022. All World Elephant Day events are free with Zoo admission.
Coming Together for Asian Elephant Conservation
The OKC Zoo is dedicated not only to educating wildlife fans about the plight of Asian elephants, but also conserving their wild counterparts through global partnerships. In 2020, the Zoo’s Round Up for Conservation funds supported EEHV vaccine development. Additionally, these funds contributed to the development of a PCR laboratory for a nature conservancy located in Nepal, home to more than 200 elephants. The Zoo has supported the Northern Rangelands Trust since 2009, which protects elephants and other native species in Kenya, the Zoo partnered with the Rainforest Trust to purchase and preserve 13,000 acres of forest in central Sumatra and 18,000 acres of forest in Borneo, both of which are natural habitats for Asian elephants. The Zoo also backed a number of other elephant conservation projects, including the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Rakhine Yoma Elephant Range Project in Myanmar and International Elephant Foundation’s conservation efforts in Sumatra. These projects support boots-on-the-ground teams that work to protect forests, prevent poaching and habitat encroachment, as well as mitigate human-elephant conflict. In the last decade, the Zoo has contributed more than $400,000 to elephant-related conservation. OKC Zoo proudly participants in the Asian Elephant Species Survival Plan®(SSP), developed by the AZA.
Through AZA SAFE: Saving Animals from Extinction, experts from around the world are working together to implement strategic conservation and engagement activities, measure conservation progress and build on established recovery plans, all in an effort to solve problems facing vulnerable and endangered species, including Asian elephants. In 2020, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums reported taking part in a variety of field conservation projects, investing nearly $25 million to help save animals from extinction with $270,000 invested in projects benefitting Asian elephants, including work with the International Elephant Foundation.
“Ears” to celebrating Asian elephant awareness with some elephantastic fun! The Oklahoma City Zoo is currently in its summer hours and open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last entry no later than 4 p.m. Purchase advance tickets at www.okczoo.org./tickets and avoid the entry lines. Don’t forget, the Zoo is offering free general admission for guests, weekday afternoons during August 2-6; 9-13 and 16-20. Advance reservations are required at www.okczoo.org/tickets for all guests and ZOOfriends members wanting to visit, capacity is limited to six people per reservation.
Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the OKC Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Regular admission is $12 for adults and $9 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free. Stay connected with the Zoo on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Linktree and by visiting our blog stories. Zoo fans can support the OKC Zoo by becoming a ZOOfriends member. Starting at $45, memberships can be purchased at ZOOfriends.org and provide access to the OKC Zoo for an entire year plus, additional benefits and discounts. To learn more about Zoo happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.