The Columbus Zoo’s elephant herd just grew by two — and they’re hoping the Asian elephant sisters will hit it off with two elephants named Hank and Beco.
Fourteen-year-old Rudy and 8-year-old Sundara, a.k.a. Sunny, who were born at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation, arrived at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Tuesday morning, and they will join the herd after a quarantine period.
The hope, according to a press release from the zoo, is that male elephants Hank and Beco will breed with the two new females and produce calves. (To date, two elephants have been born at the Columbus Zoo; Bodhi in 2004 and Beco in 2009).
“We’re proud of our elephant facility which includes one of the largest indoor spaces among all accredited North American zoos and exceeds the standards of our accrediting organization, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA),” said president and CEO Tom Stalf. “The expertise of our staff, as well as the size and quality of our elephant facility, means we can meet the social needs of our elephants by keeping them in herds.”
Sunny and Rudy’s move to the zoo is all about conservation, according to Ringling Bros., who ended circus acts with elephants in May.
“This is a part of our larger and ongoing partnership with zoos to share our elephants and expertise so we can aid in the conservation of the species and enable more people to see these magnificent animals in person,” spokesman Stephen Payne told PEOPLE.