baby elephant with mother

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Looking for A Home

Hearing the Herd

Say hello to Qinisa, our youngest elephant. An adorable bundle of energy, she likes to wrestle and play chase with her older brother, Mac. She’s smart, curious, and celebrated her second birthday with an elephant-treat cake that she shared with her family.

But if it weren’t for you, Qinisa would never have been born.

three images of baby elephant, Qinisa

Say hello to Qinisa!

Generations On the Move

Qinisa’s mom, Swazi, is the leader of this elephant family and a protective and caring mother. She can be kind of bossy, but she also often has a group of the little ones following her wherever she goes. And she loves to swim.

Mom with three young elephants

The relocated elephant herd exploring their habitat at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Harrowing Times

In 2003, Swazi and her herd were in trouble. Their home in Africa was shrinking because of humans developing the land, and droughts were drying up waterholes and killing the plants the elephants relied on for food. They were eating themselves out of house and home, and they were destroying the area for other wildlife, as well. Wildlife officials decided their only options to protect what remained of the habitat were to kill Swazi and her herd or move them to a zoo that would take care of them.

leafless trees

Before they were relocated, the elephant herd didn't have much to eat.

elephant among branches
two photos of elephants eating

Elephants eat all types of vegetation, from grass and fruit to leaves and bark. They consume 165 to 330 pounds of food each day, which is about 4 to 6 percent of their body weight.

two elephants in tall grass

Elephants spend an average of 16 hours per day eating!

In Search of a Haven

Some people disagreed with the elephants going to a zoo and protested against it. They even introduced a lawsuit and said in court they would rather see the elephants dead than in a zoo. But dedicated wildlife heroes banded together to save Swazi and her family and made it possible for them to come to San Diego.

mom and young elephant crossing a dirt road

A Monumental Move

Moving full-grown elephants from Africa to California was a monumental project! A jumbo cargo plane was arranged, and huge crates were made for the elephants to ride in during their journey. 

researchers prepare elephants for relocation
researchers prepare elephants for relocation

Researchers prepare the elephants for relocation.

researchers relocating an elephant

Caretakers transport one of the elephants to the cargo plane.

Jumbo Jetsetters

Animal caretakers went with them and made sure they had food, water, and company. Once they landed in San Diego, a caravan of trucks with a police escort brought Swazi and her herd to their new home at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

elephant crates being unloaded from an airplane
Elephant crates being placed at the Safari Park

The elephant herd arrives in San Diego!

Home Sweet Home

Since arriving at the Safari Park, Swazi has given birth to Mac and Qinisa. Seven other babies have been born to other mothers in this elephant family. Thanks to you, they are thriving.

A group of elephants at the Safari Park

The herd is thriving at the Safari Park.

Why They Need You

Swazi and her family are doing well, but other elephants are in grave danger. They are losing their homes in the wild because of human development and the results of climate change. They are coming into conflict with people and being attacked. And poachers are killing thousands of them for their ivory tusks, leaving little ones like Qinisa orphaned.

Wild elephants in the water

How You Can Help

Use your power as a consumer: don’t buy items made of ivory, and don’t buy wood that destroys African forests. Share your love of elephants and find out more about them.

two elephants with intertwining trunks

The elephants have settled in at the Safari Park.