Kim and I went to the zoo just in the nick of time, apparently. Local news outlets reported over the weekend that Bozie, the Greater Baton Rouge Zoo's only remaining elephant, will soon be leaving. I'm happy that Bozie's needs are zoo officials' primary concern, but I feel a little sad for those of us who have an affinity for elephants and will no longer have one in our community. Bozie is being relocated because elephants are social animals and she is lonely following the death of her companion, Judy, in March of this year.
I remember Judy well. She's the elephant I helped bathe one day in the '80s as part of a "behind the scenes" zoo event. She's the one pictured below with children riding on her back, a practice that was stopped abruptly years ago when it was discovered that Judy had developed arthritis. It's been reported that Judy died of "chronic gastrointestinal irritation from arthritis medication."
Judy the elephant in 1984. The little girl riding in front is my niece, Lindsay.
Judy and Bozie in 2006.
As sad as I am to see Bozie leave, I know it's best for her, and I'm excited that she's going to a good place, the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., where she'll live with several other elephants in a recently renovated (to the tune of $56 million) Elephant Trails Habitat. Judging by the many news reports from the area surrounding her destination , Bozie will get the kind of welcome she deserves.