Elephants at the Zoological Gardens Hannover in 1978
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This rare video had been taken in 1978 at the Zoological Gardens Hannover. By this time the Zoological Gardens was home to eight elephants, living on three different areas measuring all together only ca. 1.000 square metres.
In the enclosure on the right side were living the Asian elephants:
The elephant bull Siporex, born on June 21, 1966 in Aalborg, Denmark and arrived in Hannover on October 3, 1973 at the age of seven years. At the time of the video footage being only twelve years old, he had been still too young to breed with the two elder females Burma and Sabu, who were then 32 and respectively 31 years old. These two females had already given birth to four (Burma) and three (Sabu) calves in the 1960's and the early 1970's. The last calf that had been born at the Zoological Gardens to Burma was Indra on January 23, 1973 and she had been the fourth Asian elephant in the film and only five years old then.
In the two enclosures on the left side were living the African elephants:
Just some months before the recordings the large African elephant bull Tembo had to be euthanised after a femoral fracture on August 30, 1977 at the age of 26, being inoperable due to the immense weight of six tons of this impressive animal. With a height of 3,45 metres he had been one of the highest elephants that ever lived in captivity. His successor Kenny had been transferred to the Zoological Gardens on January 3, 1978, just a little time after the mournful death of Tembo, at an age of ten years and therefore being also too young to breed with the two elder cows Beira and Bibi, who were then 25 and respectively 19 years old. While Bibi was always very nervous, Beira had just given birth to Kibo, the third and last descendant of Tembo, on November 27, 1977, and both cows never felt attracted to Kenny.
Even if the film lasts only 3 minutes and 8 seconds, it shows in a most impressive manner the behavior disorders of the elephants in their artificial environment consisting of nothing more than sand and concrete in those bygone times. It is quite interesting to see that the presence of stereotypies among the three big Asian elephants, exept of young Indra, were extremly distinct and that especially the two elder female elephants Burma and Sabu spent most of their daytime in these stereotypic movements. One reason for this poor condition might have been their former Circus life. In contrast to this Indra and the African elephants seldom if ever showed stereotypic behavior. It bears mentioning that Indra even today walks the whole day through the enclosure and will never be seen swaying or nodding.