Thank you for your concern about Rose-Tu's calf. We're happy you came directly to the source for accurate information about the future of our new elephant baby. Here are some answers to your questions:
Is Have Trunk Will Travel planning to take Rose-Tu's baby away?
No, the Oregon Zoo has never questioned whether this calf would live with her herd, which is why we never considered it an issue that needed to be communicated. Have Trunk Will Travel stated that they have no intention and have never had any intention of taking Rose-Tu's calf. Read their statement here.
Does the zoo have a contract with the company Have Trunk Will Travel?
Yes, the zoo and Have Trunk Will Travel have an agreement outlining the breeding loan of Tusko and the resulting offspring. This agreement has always been a fact we've been willing to talk about. It has been reported in Portland's local media.
Does the Oregon Zoo own Rose-Tu's baby?
As per the agreement, Have Trunk Will Travel is the formal owner of Rose-Tu's calf. However, ownership of an animal does not determine where it will live. Nearly every zoo keeps animals that they don't own. For instance, most koalas living in the U.S. are actually owned by the San Diego Zoo. The Oregon Zoo has been home to other residents who were not initially owned by the zoo, most notably Packy.
Our contract is representative of standard agreements within the zoo industry. While it may not be widely understood by the public, many animals live out their lives in the care of people who are other than their legal owners. The zoo has been in discussion with Have Trunk Will Travel about retaining Rose-Tu's calf.
Why did the Oregon Zoo enter a contract with Have Trunk will Travel?
Simply put, the Oregon Zoo contract with Have Trunk Will Travel is all about Tusko. The Oregon Zoo is an AZA accredited zoo and therefore participates in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for elephants. The Taxon Advisory Group recommended breeding Tusko with Rose-Tu to increase genetic diversity in our herd.
We were fortunate to find a bull like Tusko. He has been a perfect match for our herd and we were grateful to find him. Not only did the match provide the genetic diversity the zoo's breeding program needed, but it also provided a bull with great social skills, such as experience around calves, a gentle nature around females. Tusko has served as a great role model for young males like Samudra. This directly supports the zoo's efforts to advance the highest level of elephant care and welfare.
Through this agreement the zoo has taken another successful step toward realizing our vision of multigenerational family herds. Asian elephants are critically endangered and our work toward preserving the species is vital.