Animals and Conservation

Elephant Program

Our Mission

It is the mission of the Zoo’s Elephant Program to manage elephants in a manner that meets or exceeds the highest standards for elephant care. In so doing, the Elephant Program strives to contribute to the conservation of elephants, empower staff members, educate the public, and make a difference. As part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is an advocate on behalf of elephants and, with the collaboration of others, is committed to ensuring that elephants are part of the world’s future.

elephantsThe Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is committed to the long-term survival of elephants. It has a long history of exhibiting and caring for elephants. The Maryland Zoo is the third oldest zoo in the country, having been created by an Act of the Maryland General Assembly in 1876. The Zoo opened its first elephant house in the 1920s, and its first resident was an Asian elephant named Mary Anne. She was purchased with monies collected by Baltimore City school children.

In 1985, the Zoo opened a new and greatly expanded elephant facility in its African Journey section. While designed to offer more space and improved housing for the elephants, this new exhibit and barn also were designed with vision and intent to be utilized as a breeding facility. One of the Zoo’s current African elephant residents, Anna, moved into the new barn and led the way into the progressive elephant program that the Zoo has today.

In 2007, The Maryland Zoo began renovations of the current barn to further enlarge and enhance the elephant indoor living space. The Zoo has plans to undertake a large expansion of the elephant habitat to include new yards, an elephant “trek” walking path, and a new state-of-the-art barn for a growing herd.

elephantIn 2007, the Zoo also welcomed two new African elephants into the herd. Felix, an adult female, and Tuffy, an adult male, traveled to Maryland from a facility in Arkansas. Then, on March 19, 2008, Felix gave birth to a healthy male calf that became the newest member of the herd. (Felix was pregnant when she came to the Zoo.)

The growing herd, along with the exhibit expansion and the opportunities it will provide, continue to demonstrate the Zoo’s long-term commitment and connection to elephants and their care and conservation.

96 elephants

What can you do to support the conservation of African elephants in the wild? The Zoo supports the Wildlife Conservation Society’s 96 elephants initiative. This project raises awareness about elephant poaching in Africa and the ways it can be stopped. Visit their website to learn more.

How do Zoo elephants help conserve wild elephants?

  • Elephants are powerful conservation ambassadors.  Seeing elephants in zoos helps people emotionally connect to them in a way that can’t be experienced through books or technology.
  • Educating zoo visitors helps change behavior that positively impacts elephant conservation.
  • Studying elephants in zoos provides vital information about their reproductive physiology, low frequency and olfactory communication, and cognitive ability.
  • Breeding enhances animal welfare.  It is very enriching and natural for elephants to experience a birth, rear young and live in a multi-generational herd.

Learn More:

Facts about African Elephants

Meet the Herd

Training 101: How we Train Our Elephants

Research and Conservation

The Zoo’s elephant exhibit is sponsored by:


Conservation at Home

Penguin Encounters





Elephant Program


Animal Experiences

Rise & Conquer