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Happiness is a Herd
Elephants Brittany, Ruth & Belle Together

Ruth (left) and Brittany (right) shown in the outdoor habitat.

Posted September 2020

Since the arrival of a new African elephant, female Belle, to the Milwaukee County Zoo in November 2019, animal care staff have been working diligently to integrate her with resident elephants, Brittany and Ruth.  For many months, all three elephants participated in a series of interactions with one another. 

Brittany inside the Elephant Care Center.

In mid-July, zookeepers initiated the process for all three elephants to roam the 360-degree layout in the indoor Elephant Care Center (ECC), while being closely monitored by staff.

Most recently, the ECC was closed to visitors during the introductions, but is now open (the building is self-regulated for physical distancing purposes) when introductions take place.  Introductions do not take place every day, as keepers allow the elephants to decide when they want to participate in the open layout format. 

Belle arrived from Riverbanks Zoo in South Carolina as a third herd member for Brittany and Ruth.  The dynamics of an elephant herd help the animals’ overall well-being and meets the social psychological and physical needs of the animals.

Elephant Belle outside.

Both Brittany and Belle are considered dominant animals, and through the separate introductions and interactions, both elephants are working out the hierarchy of the herd; keepers believe that Belle will be the dominant animal over Brittany and Ruth. 

Introductions in the Elephant Care Center will continue for some time, after which the keepers will begin to let all three elephants into the 1.6-acre outdoor habitat.

Next time you’re at the Zoo, be sure to visit the Elephant Care Center and you might see an introduction taking place.

Visit the Zoo’s website again for future updates!