Goodbye San Antonio, Hello Sanctuary: Follow the Incredible Journey of Nicole, the Asian Elephant, as She Begins a New Chapter of Her Life!

An elderly Asian elephant named Nicole from the San Antonio Zoo is embarking on a new journey to spend her remaining years at an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee.

Nicole was part of the zoo’s Asian elephant geriatric herd known as “The Golden Girls,” who lived together from 2016 until Karen and Lucky passed away in 2022.

The trio brought attention to Asian elephants and their compassionate nature, inspiring visitors to care for and protect these animals from extinction.

Although the San Antonio Zoo is bidding farewell to Nicole this week, the zoo is not saying goodbye to elephants forever. According to Tim Morrow, the President and CEO of the San Antonio Zoo, elephants will return to the zoo in the future as part of its expansion with a new world-class elephant habitat.

The zoo is currently in the midst of its largest growth period ever, and elephants are a significant part of its future plan. The zoo will open a new entrance later this year, followed by the largest gorilla habitat in the United States.

The expansion will combine the current elephant and giraffe habitats, allowing the zoo to add more giraffes and other species to an expanded savanna.

The San Antonio Zoo plans to move five Bactrian Camels into the vacated space shortly after Nicole’s departure. Meanwhile, Nicole is making an 800-mile trip in a climate-controlled transportation crate with a veterinarian and support staff.

She has spent the last month in her habitat acclimating to the crate. Rachel Malstaff, the Director of Mammals at San Antonio Zoo, shared that Nicole is used to traveling as she was part of a traveling circus before joining The Golden Girls in Bahiti Waters.

Malstaff expressed confidence that the journey would go smoothly and that Nicole would feel right at home when she arrives.

As Nicole moves to Tennessee, the San Antonio Zoo bids her farewell, grateful for the years she spent with them as one of The Golden Girls.

Morrow shared that Nicole and Karen bonded beyond expectations with Lucky and inspired visitors to care for and want to protect elephants from extinction.

The zoo looks forward to inspiring its community through education and conservation as it secures a future for wildlife and wild places in Texas and worldwide.

Nicole, who will soon turn 48 years old, will join nine other elephants ranging in age from 37 to 60 at the sanctuary in Tennessee.

The move marks a new chapter in Nicole’s life and highlights the importance of animal welfare and conservation efforts. As zoos work to provide the best care for their animals, partnerships with sanctuaries can offer a new lease on life for elderly or retired animals like Nicole, allowing them to live out their remaining years in peace and comfort.

The journey for Nicole may be long, but it offers hope for the future of animal welfare and conservation.