Four elephants at the Seneca Park Zoo in upstate New York just got a new roommate. However, she’s a little smaller than her new friends. Okay, she’s a lot smaller.
Meet Zuzu, a 5-month-old hound mix that the zoo adopted from Lollypop Farm, the Humane Society of Greater Rochester.
Zuzu will be the zoo’s new elephant barn dog. Following in the path of several other zoos that have dogs hanging out in their elephant exhibits, Zuzu will live alongside four senior African elephants: Genny C, Lilac, Moki and Chana.
Join us in welcoming Zuzu, an elephant barn dog, to the #SenecaParkZoo family! Zuzu is a 5-month-old female hound mix, who will live in the elephant barn & work with the elephants & their keepers. Zuzu was adopted from @LollypopFarm. More: https://t.co/zvWQsDkfHG pic.twitter.com/4UGn8iu6ab
— Seneca Park Zoo (@SenecaParkZoo) August 3, 2018
But why, you might be wondering, would a dog live with elderly elephants?
“In addition to helping our dedicated staff enhance their training skills, Zuzu will also provide companionship and enrichment to the elephants who call our zoo home,” Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo said in a statement. “In their natural habitat, elephants encounter many different species of animals, so our elephants will be well-equipped to live happily alongside Zuzu moving forward.”
Today, Elephant Handler Kat Kleinschmidt is taking over our Twitter account to show you what it takes to care for the Zoo’s 4 female African elephants, and to encourage you to join us for #ElephantDay – this Sunday, Aug. 12! Follow along! ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/TVVMyclmox
— Seneca Park Zoo (@SenecaParkZoo) August 9, 2018
Zuzu will live permanently in the elephant barn but will have a crate to sleep in at night.
In addition to helping the trainers work on their skills, Zuzu will provide “physical and mental stimulation to help the elephants experience unexpected and changing dynamics in their daily lives,” according to the statement. And nothing says “unexpected and changing dynamics” like a puppy!
I have no doubt that, after a brief adjustment period, these animals will get along just fine — so long as the elephants watch where they are stepping! Elephants are notoriously empathetic (if not always graceful) creatures, and dogs can live with just about any animals. I also eagerly look forward to the elephants teaching the young, impressionable puppy the ways of the pachyderm. She’ll be swinging her non-existent trunk in no time.
I think we need a live-feed of this new living arrangement! It will be like a mix of “Golden Girls” and “New Girl,” but with elephants and puppies instead. (Yes, I think Zuzu is Jess in this scenario.) I would binge watch that!