Blackpool welcomes first bull elephant to multi-million pound development
Blackpool Zoo is preparing to welcome a male elephant for the first time in its 47-year history.
Emmett, who is an Asian elephant, will be moving from ZSL Whipsnade Zoo to breed with Blackpool’s herd of females in its new Project Elephant Base Camp development.
Blackpool Zoo’s Section Head of Project Elephant, Adam Kenyon, is no stranger to 28-year-old Emmett as he worked with him at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo for three years from 2004.
He said: “We are all very excited to be welcoming Emmett to Blackpool Zoo.
“We’re working towards a multi-generational herd of Asian elephants that exhibits natural, wild behaviours and a key component of this is the addition of a male.
“Not only is he crucial from a biological point of view but his past experience as part of a multi-generational herd in which he has sired young means he is perfectly placed to teach the next generation of elephants.”
“I have spent time with Emmett in recent months and he has matured into a wonderful breeding bull with a great temperament – which is exactly what we were looking for.”
Emmett’s arrival is scheduled for later this year and follows over 12 months of behind the scenes work with experts from the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) and specialist keepers from across the UK and beyond.
He will join the Blackpool herd of five female elephants, Kate, Minbu, Noorjahan, Tara and Esha.
Kate was the first animal to arrive at Blackpool in 1972 while the other four packed their trunks and moved to Blackpool from Twycross Zoo in 2018.
Darren Webster, Director at Blackpool Zoo, said: “Emmett is a fundamental part of our plan to secure a future for this magnificent species.
“Ground broke on Project Elephant in 2016 and his arrival marks the start of an thrilling journey.
“We have worked with amazing teams at Twycross and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo as well as experts from the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) to create a strong herd and our outstanding facilities provide a great environment for them all to thrive.”
ZSL’s Senior Curator of Mammals, Malcolm Fitzpatrick, added: “Part of the European Endangered Species Programme for Asian elephants, Emmett’s move is an exciting one for his new herd at Blackpool as well as the herd at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, who will themselves soon be welcoming a new male into the group.
“Male elephants in the wild do not stay with one matriarchal herd for their lifetimes, so this replicates a natural process for both males – we’re sure Emmett will waste no time getting to know his new herd.”
Project Elephant underpins Blackpool Zoo’s ongoing commitment to the endangered Asian Elephant. It is a long-term supporter of the Biodiversity and Elephant Conservation Trust (BECT) in Sri Lanka.
Formed in 1998 the non-profit organisation identifies and addresses the social issues of human and elephant conflict in order to facilitate the conservation of the species.
The Asian elephant has been listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 1986. The population has declined by at least 50 percent over the last three generations, estimated to be 60–75 years, with threats including loss of habitat, habitat degradation, fragmentation and poaching.