SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Zoo’s Asian elephant Nicole is scheduled to move this week to live her remaining years at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, according to a release from the San Antonio Zoo.
She was the remaining elephant of the well-known herd dubbed the “Golden Girls.”
The girls were together from 2016 until Karen & Lucky’s passing in 2022. The trio brought millions closer to Asian Elephants, and their caring nature, the zoo said.
“We are going to miss Nicole dearly,” said Tim Morrow, president & CEO of San Antonio Zoo. “We are grateful for the years she spent with us as one of the Golden Girls. She and Karen bonded beyond expectations with Lucky and inspired visitors to care for and want to protect elephants from extinction.”
The zoo said the animal care team has spent the last month working with Nicole to prepare her for the 800-mile move. Nicole has been acclimated to the crate that she will be in for her trip to the sanctuary.
“Nicole is actually used to traveling,” said Rachel Malstaff, director of mammals at the zoo. “Before joining the Golden Girls in Bahiti Waters, Nicole was part of a traveling circus. She was naturally curious and quickly comfortable when we introduced her to the transportation crate. I have no doubts that the trip will go smoothly, and this sweet elephant will feel right at home when she arrives.”
Nicole, who will soon turn 48 years old, will be joining nine other elephants ranging in age from 37 to 60 at the sanctuary.
The Elephant Sanctuary is the nation’s largest natural-habitat refuge, located on 3,060 acres in Hohenwald, developed specifically to provide for elephants as they age with the companionship of a herd and individualized care, according to the release.
Although Nicole was the last remaining elephant in her group, Murrow said elephants will return to the zoo in the future.
“Elephants WILL return to San Antonio Zoo in the future as part of the zoo’s expansion with a new world-class elephant habitat,” said Morrow. “We are currently in the largest growth period our 108-year-old zoo has ever seen, and elephants are a big part of our future plan. An inspiring new entrance will be opened later this year, with the largest gorilla habitat in the U.S. coming shortly after. Inspiring our community through education and conservation will continue to be our focus as we look to the next 100 years of securing a future for wildlife and wild places in Texas and worldwide.”