The fate of Dolly and Anna

November 06, 2003

WHAT, NO elephants? Whoever heard of a zoo - any self-respecting zoo - that didn't have a couple of the big, floppy-eared beasts? The Baltimore Zoo's plan to send its two resident pachyderms packing due to budget cutbacks has elicited a public outcry to rival the Great Elephant Stampede of 1949 in Gonzales, Texas. And that's saying something.

But the zoo's decision to send African elephants Dolly and Anna elsewhere to be bred wasn't made lightly. It affords the financially strapped zoo a chance to responsibly cut costs while at the same time giving the loveable gray girls a chance to do what comes naturally in the hopes of preserving the breed in North America.

The zoo's financial woes were a couple of years in the making. The chilling effect of Sept. 11 on school trips, cuts in state funding and inclement weather all contributed. Add to that the tick-tock of Dolly and Anna's biological clocks and there you have it.

The appeals to save Dolly and Anna have already gone out. To keep the elephants at the zoo in improved quarters - and to breed them in house and artificially - would cost $900,000 over three years. Certainly not peanuts. If Dolly and Anna must go, zoo officials say, the expectation is that they will return, hopefully with babies in tow, and pick up where they left off. Because as we all know, elephants never forget.

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