Greenville Zoo to say goodbye to Joy the elephant - FOX Carolina 21

Greenville Zoo to say goodbye to Joy the elephant

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Joy a.k.a. Joni at the Greenville Zoo (Courtesy: Greenville Zoo) Joy a.k.a. Joni at the Greenville Zoo (Courtesy: Greenville Zoo)
The Encounter Africa exhibit at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (Courtesy: Greenville Zoo) The Encounter Africa exhibit at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (Courtesy: Greenville Zoo)
The Encounter Africa exhibit at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (Courtesy: Greenville Zoo) The Encounter Africa exhibit at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (Courtesy: Greenville Zoo)
GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Greenville Zoo officials said they've found a new home for Joy the elephant after an extensive search with the Elephant Species Survival Program.

Zoo officials said Thursday that Joy (also known as "Joni") will be moved to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, CO.

"This was a difficult decision, and Joni will be missed dearly by the Greenville Zoo staff and community," said Greenville Zoo Director Jeff Bullock. "However, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has an amazing program for maturing elephants that will help elephants like Joni thrive. The facility and community are ready to welcome and embrace her as one of their own."

In 2012, officials said the Greenville Zoo determined it did not have enough space to keep the elephant exhibit and meet new American Zoological Association guidelines and began searching for the zoo's two elephants, Ladybird and Joni. Ladybird passed away in March before zoo officials finished their search.

"Elephants are very social animals and with Ladybird's passing, the search for a new home for Joni became even more critical," said Bullock.

"The process was long and arduous, but the committee was determined to find the best place for Joni to live out the rest of her life," said Heather Miller, deputy administrator for animal health. "Cheyenne Mountain Zoo staff visited our zoo and spent time with Joni and her zookeepers. In an effort to aid her in the transition, they have adopted the name Joni, which is the original name given to her by the zookeepers and trainers who cared for her."

Joni is will live out her days in Cheyenne Mountain Zoo's brand-new Encounter Africa exhibit with four other female African elephants. Officials said Joni's new home will provide her with regular exercise, a yoga program to keep the elephants' joints moving and a three-acre "vacation yard" that includes a wooded area for times when the elephants might look for alternative enrichment.

Zoo officials are still working out a timeline for Joni's transfer to the Colorado zoo.

Zoo officials said a three-story building to house multiple new species of animals will be constructed in the elephant exhibit site once Joni leaves.

Joni is a 44-year-old African elephant who has been a feature at Greenville Zoo since she arrived in 1977 at the age of 7.

The zoo will hold a four-day farewell celebration for Joni June 5-8 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. near the elephant exhibit.

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