April 18, 2016


RON MAGILL, Zoo Communications Director
305-251-0400, ext. 84916 – Zoo Miami


Zoo Miami will be receiving two very large additions on Tuesday, April19th.  “Cita” and “Lisa” are two African elephants that will be arriving from the Virginia Zoo as part of an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) recommendation.   This recommendation is in line with an upcoming requirement by the AZA that accredited institutions exhibiting elephants maintain them in herds of three or more to support the complex and psychological health of the animals.

Lisa is 42 years old, was born in the wild, and arrived at the Virginia Zoo in 1976.  Cita is almost 48 years old and arrived at the Virginia Zoo from the Indianapolis Zoo in 2005.  Following a quarantine period, they will be joining Zoo Miami’s resident African females, Peggy and Mabel, both of whom are 40 years old.  All of these females are beyond their reproductive ages and therefore will not be part of any breeding program. 

Though it was extremely difficult for the staff at the Virginia Zoo, the decision to move the elephants to Zoo Miami was driven by what was best for the elephants.  Zoo Miami is the only zoo in the continental United States that is located in a sub-tropical climate where the elephants can remain outdoors year-round while enjoying the spacious exhibits that have gone through recent renovations.  In addition, the overwhelming commitment that Zoo Miami has demonstrated to elephant care helped the staff choose Zoo Miami over other institutions.  Virginia Zoo Executive Director stated that, “We care for all animals at the Zoo and Cita and Lisa are especially loved.  Nothing is more important to us than their welfare.  The combination of compassionate care, the science of elephant studies, and the expertise of the elephant community show us that Zoo Miami is the best choice for our girls.”  Like it is for many human residents, South Florida, with its mild climate and abundant sunshine, offers the ideal retirement location for these elephants as they approach the sunset of their lives.  Zoo Miami is committed to providing these “Golden Girls” with the best possible environment that will allow them to live out the rest of their lives in comfort and with dignity.

The elephants left the Virginia Zoo at approximately 11:30AM this morning and are expected to arrive at Zoo Miami at approximately 11:30AM tomorrow morning.  Interested media are welcome to be at the zoo for their arrival but must be aware that there will not be any access to the elephants while they are being unloaded due to the sensitivity of the procedure and the requirement of maintaining strict quarantine guidelines.  Once unloaded, the animals should be visible to cameras from the public walkways but no other access will be granted until the quarantine period is over.  It is suggested that interested media call for updates on arrival time tomorrow morning prior to arriving at the zoo.  There will be an official presentation of these elephants to the public on May 20th, following the completion of the quarantine period.