The National Zoo's elephant exhibit will get a bit more crowded next spring when it adds three female Asian pachyderms on an extended loan from the Calgary Zoo. When the trio of elephants arrives, the Elephant Community Center's herd will grow to seven.
Two of the newcomers, Kamala and Swarna, were born in the wild in 1975 and were transported to Calgary the following year by way of a Sri Lankan elephant orphanage. The third, Maharani, is Kamala's offspring, born at the Calgary Zoo in 1990.
When they arrive—and complete a customary 30-day quarantine—the new elephants will join the existing herd comprised of 65-year-old Ambika, 38-year-old Shanthi, 11-year-old (and lone male of the bunch) Kandula, and the most recent addition, 37-year-old Bozie. Bozie, recently imported from a zoo in Baton Rouge, La., is the one with a much-publicized knack for painting, though she hasn't exercised her artistic talents since arriving in DC. (National Zoo spokeswoman Jennifer Zoon says that here, zookeepers try to focus on the elephant's natural, rather than trained, skills.)
And even though seven pachyderms seems like a lot, there's room for more. The National Zoo says its elephant exhibit is large enough to house eight to ten adult specimens and their young.