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    Helping bears & elephants

From bears of the Arctic to elephants from Africa, your Zoo's donor-funded Conservation Today program is helping animals in the wild and in zoo environments.


According to research from Polar Bears International (PBI), eight of the world’s 12 polar bear populations for which we have data are declining.
Photo: BJ Kirschhoffer,
Polar Bears International

Click here or on the image above to see a video clip that Ben Whitebred, the Zoo's elephant manager, made of Louie maneuvering this one-ton enrichment log.

When you buy selected Zoo merchandise (like figurines made of tagua, or "elephant-free ivory," shown here), you support Conservation Today. Look for displays at the Zoo's North Star Trading Post and KC's Corner Store. Merchandise includes selected plush animals, totes, apparel and more.
Photo: Kandace York


The Zoo's polar bear cubs, Suka and Sakari, have a bright future. But life for their wild counterparts is a different story.

Levels of carbon dioxide (C02) are creating a "blanket" over the Earth that keeps it from cooling down properly. This, in turn, is melting sea ice in Arctic habitats.

That's bad news for polar bears, because they're marine mammals that depend on ice to live. They cannot survive on land or in ice-free water.

By working with Polar Bears International and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, your Zoo is helping wild polar bears in three ways:

  • placing orphaned cubs that are rescued from the Arctic
  • developing oil spill preparedness plans
  • monitoring wild bear populations

The fall issue of Safari magazine discusses these projects in detail, and it's all possible through your support of Conservation Today, the Zoo's donor-supported conservation program.


The 2012 opening of Tembo Trail marked a new era for elephants at the Toledo Zoo. This exhibit has been ranked among the nation's best in terms of "high" (vertical) enrichment, offering elephants a remarkable blend of both physical and mental fitness opportunities.

The care of our elephants is one of the reasons the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) trusted us with Twiggy, an African elephant whose former owner could not longer provide the care she needed. Read more about her story here.

We're doing more than providing great care for our elephants, though. We're educating visitors about elephant health, care, training and enrichment, through regular public demonstrations that welcome the public to learn more about these majestic animals.

All through the summer months, we also offered behind-the-scenes Elephant Excellence tours. Proceeds from these tours supported elephant welfare in less developed countries' zoos. This meant that zoos could get new tools to better care for their elephants' feet, for example, along with enrichment equipment to keep their animals mentally stimulated -- all in conjunction with our staff's knowledge and access for questions, answers and advice.

Successes like these are possible because of people just like you who support Conservation Today, the Zoo's donor-funded conservation initiative. Thank you for your support!

story by Kandace York
Sept. 5, 2013


Above: Tembo Trail features soft, sloping sand to encourage the Zoo's elephants to stay physically fit
as they move through the exhibit. Keepers can raise nets, tires and enrichment objects (shown in the
background behind Renee) so the elephants use their natural athleticism and "smarts" to access food
throughout the day. Photo: Andi Norman

Banner photo, top of page: Roy Katalan




For more information about any of the Zoo’s programs or services, please call 419.385.5721 or visit toledozoo.org.