Elephants relocated to zoo improving

The two elephants brought to the San Diego Zoo from a private collection in Texas have both gained about 300 pounds and are building trust with their handlers, zoo officials said Wednesday.

Jewel and Tina, who are believed to be in their mid-40s, were removed from their owner by the U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture and brought to San Diego in August.

Jewel now weighs 6,714 pounds and Tina tops the scale at 7,664 pounds.

The zoo's Dani Dodge Medlin said there really is no average weight for an elephant, but their handlers would like Tina and especially Jewel to gain a few more pounds.

They've been feasting on carrots, sweet potatoes, apples, alfalfa and beet pulp.

In recent examinations, the elephants willingly raised their legs to allow their feet to be cleaned and placed on a platform used for x-rays, a sign of increasing trust with their handlers.

"When they first arrived, Tina wouldn't let us near her rear end," said Victoria Zahn, a senior keeper. "Now she presents her back feet perfectly so we can scrub and care for them — this is all part of the trusting relationship we are building with them."

Both animals remain in quarantine, and won't be brought out for public viewing in the Elephant Odyssey exhibit until they clear all their health checks.

   
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