Fresno Chaffee Zoo (Fresno, CA)
Amahle is an African elephant currently held at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo in Fresno, CA. She was born in the wild 13 years ago and was imported to the US in 2016. Amahle is confined with 2 other elephants, who all suffer from their facility’s lack of sufficient space and from being unable to engage in their natural behaviors. She is pregnant and due to give birth in 2024.
Amahle is a 13 year old African elephant. She was born in Hlane National Park in Eswatini. Amahle, along with her mother Nolwazi, were among 39 elephants who roamed approximately 12,000 acres of the 54,000-acre park.
In 2016, she and 16 other elephants, most of them breeding-age females, were taken from their natural habitat and imported to US zoos–a highly controversial arrangement which Charles Siebert detailed in a 2019 investigative essay for The New York Times Magazine.
Three AZA-accredited US zoos–the Dallas Zoo in Texas, the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas, and the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Nebraska–had agreed to donate $450,000 to Big Game Parks as part of a relocation deal, with B.G.P. ignoring offers to give refuge to the elephants in Africa, according to Siebert.
In 2016 the US Fish & Wildlife Service approved the zoos’ request despite global public outcry, including from 80 respected elephant and conservation experts around the world and in the face of a lawsuit filed in the US by Friends of Animals to try to stop the importation. Amahle and the other elephants were sedated, crated, and loaded onto a cargo plane and split up across the three zoos. Amahle spent two years in captivity in the Dallas Zoo before she and her mother Nolwazi were transferred to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo in 2018, where they remain today.
In 2023 the Fresno Chaffee Zoo announced that Amahle was pregnant and due to give birth in fall of 2024.
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