Belfast Telegraph

New resident unpacks trunk at zoo

An Asian bull elephant was blowing his own trumpet on Monday as he was unveiled as the largest animal in Dublin Zoo.

Upali, who measures 3m (10ft) tall and weighs more than 6,000kg (13,228lb), was shipped to Ireland as part of an international breeding programme.

The 17-year-old is expected to double the size of the herd at the zoo with sisters Bernhardine and Yasmin, and Yasmin's calf Anak in the coming years.

Leo Oosterweghel, director at Dublin Zoo, said: "Upali's arrival is a hugely significant occasion for us as part of the international breeding programme."

Asian elephants are endangered with an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 left in the wild.

Upali, who weighs the equivalent of 10 Friesian cows, was brought in from Chester Zoo last week, but preparation for his arrival began last September when construction work on his new elephant house began.

To accommodate Upali comfortably, the purpose-built 200 square metre (2,153 sq ft) structure was fitted with a glass ceiling, radiant heating and 1.5m (5ft) deep sand for the elephant to stand on.

The enclosure at the Kaziranga Forest Trail was opened by Brian Hayes, junior minister with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW).

But Mr Oosterweghel assured the politician there were no white elephants at the zoo, only grey ones. "We are very grateful to the Government and the OPW for the funding and technical support they have provided over the past 18 years," he said.

"Without the commitment from the government we could not have transformed Dublin Zoo into Ireland's number one family attraction, with over one million visitors per annum."

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