Oakland Zoo's last female elephant moved to new herd in Tennessee

Donna, the Oakland Zoo's 43-year-old African elephant, has moved to a new home in Tennessee following the death of her long-time elephant companion Lisa earlier this year.   

Donna came to Oakland in 1990 from the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans and quickly bonded with Lisa, growing so close that the pair slept together in the same barn for years, according to Oakland Zoo officials.   

Donna and Lisa were the last female elephants at the zoo, following the 2019 death of 50-year-old M'Dunda.   

"Female elephants are deeply social with each other and create close, lifelong bonds," said Colleen Kinzley, vice president of animal care, conservation and research at the Oakland Zoo. "Our priority has been to ensure Donna, now the sole female at Oakland Zoo, can live out her life with other compatible females."   

To that end, Donna was moved by truck to The Elephant Sanctuary, an Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited facility in Hohenwald, Tennessee, where she arrived early Wednesday morning.   

On Thursday, she was introduced through a protected fence line to the first member of her new herd, 42-year-old Flora, zoo officials said in a news release, and she will soon meet the others -- Tange, 50, and Sukari, 39.   

Donna, who loves to carry a tire around and eat watermelons, will soon get to range around The Elephant Sanctuary's 3,060 acres with her new pals.   

People who still want to keep up with Donna's new life might be able to catch a glimpse of her on The Elephant Sanctuary's webcams at www.elephants.com.