21 June 2015
Elephants are so clever that they'll test the pulse of an electric fence with a stick and knock it down if it's not working.
Using electric fences to prevent human-elephant conflict is the kind of initiative Auckland Zoo's Conservation Fund has been supporting in Sri Lanka.
The zoo's newest baby, eight-year-old Asian elephant Anjalee, is set to be the latest public face of its wildlife preservation efforts.
Anjalee is due in Auckland this week after spending three months in quarantine on the Pacific island of Niue.
The excitement among zoo staff is palpable.
"They've just put so much effort and time and their lives into it for the past five years," Conservation Fund programmes co-ordinator Peter Fraser said.
The long-awaited pachyderm, who will be a companion for Auckland's existing elephant Burma, began life in the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka.
The zoo backs moves in Sri Lanka to gain more information about elephants to help inform policy and better protect them.
Last year 170 people and 250 elephants died in human-elephant conflict there, and as the country's population grows so does the problem, Fraser said.
"If an elephant raids your crop and comes into your village and kills someone you're going to retaliate, it's understandable," he said.