Animal Stories from All-Creatures.org

From The Elephant Sanctuary
December 2010

Tange was orphaned in South Africa as an infant when her family was culled. She was sent to a zoo in Georgia where she lived for nearly thirty years with one other elephant. In 2004 she came to The Elephant Sanctuary.

Born: 1973 Birthplace: Africa Birth status: wild born • Orphaned in a cull • Life before the Sanctuary: Chehaw Wild Animal Park in Albany, Georgia since 1978 • Reason for coming to the Sanctuary: Chehaw’s Zoo Director felt that the facilities were no longer adequate for the elephants • Moved to The Elephant Sanctuary - February 19, 2004

Height: 8' 3" Weight: 9800 lbs Favorite Food: Watermelon

Tange was orphaned in South Africa as an infant when her family was culled. She was sent to a zoo in Georgia where she lived for nearly thirty years with one other elephant. Tange is submissive to both Zula and Flora, two of our residents.


She is recognized by her large eyes and good natured interactions with other elephants. She has short thick ivory, a long tail and the longest body of all three African elephants.

It is unclear if Tange and Zula are related but what is known is that they were both orphaned as result of a culling (mass killing) of all the adults and sub-adults in their family [herd]. Once orphaned they were captured and brought to the United States along with a third, unidentified orphaned calf, by animal broker Jurgen Schulz.

Tange and Zula arrived at the Chehaw Wild Animal Park in Albany Georgia June 1, 1978; they had been purchased for $25,000. The Exchange Club of Albany donated $12,500 and challenged the public to match their donation by raising the remainder of the funds through community based fundraising.

In a two-fold effort to rally the community and later to repay the efforts of local businesses that helped reach the fundraising goal, Tange and Zula were taken to many promotional events. McDonalds was a popular spot to catch a glimpse of the baby elephants. It is said that people ate a lot of Big Macs that year in support of the fund drive.

Over the next five years Tange and Zula continued to make appearances at community events. The owner of a local moving company transported the elephants in his furniture van. On several occasions Tange and Zula were the main attraction at private parties hosted by friends of Jim Fowler, founder of the park.

Upon their arrival, Tange and Zula were housed with the zoo’s sole elephant Dottie, aka Champagne, a female Asian elephant that that the park had acquired one month earlier. Dottie was born wild in India in 1964. She was purchased by the Chateau Theatrical Animals for the New York World's Fair in 1965. In 1969 she was sent to the Beardsley Zoological Gardens in Bridgeport, Connecticut. In 1977, after killing someone at the Beardsley zoo, she was purchased by Jurgen Schulz and sold to the Chehaw Wild Animal Park in May of 1978. Tange, Zula and Dottie shared living quarters at Chehaw Wild Animal Park until Dottie was sold in 1985 to circus elephant trainer and presenter “Buckles” Woodcock. Five years later Dottie died at the relatively young age of 26.

Tange and Zula have spent their entire lives entertaining thousands of zoo patrons that visit the park annually. In the beginning they were even taken off grounds to do promotional events and private parties but that activity was discontinued when Tange became a “runner”.

When brute force is used with African elephants many respond by running, such was the case with Tange. African elephants have a reputation for being flighty and less intelligent than their Asian cousins. Although many are quick to flee from a situation which frightens or frustrates them, there is no scientific documentation which would suggest that one species is smarter than the other.

Their behavior however varies significantly. The heavy handed dominance that was prevalent in elephant management in the 1970’s lead to the creation of many “runners”. African elephants tend to be less tolerant of brute force than their Asian cousins. As results, trainers who had spent a lifetime developing their training craft with Asian elephants found African elephants to be “stupid”. Probably what is closer to the truth is that trainers with expertise training Asian elephants were set in their ways. The African elephant posed a new set of challenges which required a different approach.

In 1988, a new entry level keeper was hired to help care for the elephants. She had no experience managing exotic animals, which was common place in zoos across the country at that time. History would prove that what Kathi Murray lacked in experience she made up for in compassion and the determination to improve the welfare of her new charges. Staffing was inconsistent, leaving Kathi and her equally novice co-workers to figure things out for themselves.

In 1991, Kathi met Carol Buckley at an American Zoological Association management school. Carol quickly became Kathi’s mentor. For the next thirteen years Carol worked closely with Kathi, consulting on Chehaw’s elephant program. Kathi continued to expand her knowledge of elephants and their care. After years of hard work and self-education, Kathi and her fellow elephant keepers had developed a three-keeper team with training protocol for keepers as well as elephants. The protocols were based on team work and positive training methods. One of the many benefits resulting from Kathi and her college’s dedication was that Tange was no longer a “runner.”

In July of 1994, the 500-year flood swept through the City of Albany. Chehaw Wild Animal Park was literally under water. By the time Kathi reached Tange and Zula who were chained in their barn, they were belly deep in flood waters. Their vocalizations and body language clearly demonstrated that they were as happy to see Kathi as she was to see them. Throughout the ordeal the elephants placed their trust in Kathi completely. She credited their faith in her to the relationship they had forged; a relationship where Kathi placed their needs first and foremost.

Over the following years Chehaw experienced a turn over in zoo management and keeper staff. Luckily for the elephants Kathi remained a constant figure in their lives. The most recent change in leadership took place in 2002 and came in the form of a progressive thinker determined to better the zoo, the animal’s lives and ensure the zoo’s financial stability.

Zoo Director Glenn Dobrogosz made the bold recommendation to retire Tange and Zula. Dobrogosz felt that the elephants deserved to live out their remaining years in the best captive environment possible. He researched many facilities and found The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee to be the most suitable environment for the elephants. Once The Elephant Sanctuary agreed to accept Tange and Zula, Dobrogosz set out on the daunting task of getting the Specie Survival Plan of the AZA to approve his decision. Dobrogosz followed protocol and after six months of diligently researching other facilities that were recommended by the SSP, Chehaw was given official clearance to send Tange and Zula to The Elephant Sanctuary.

In 2003 The Elephant Sanctuary expanded from a 200-acre habitat to an enormous 2,700-acre natural habitat preserve that can sustain up to 100 elephants of both species. The Sanctuary completed construction of the new African elephant house December 2003.

Tange and Zula were the first African elephants to live in the new state-of-the-art African house. They were soon joined by Flora, another African elephant and ex-circus performer who had been boarding at the Miami Metro Zoo.

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