Born at Zurich Zoo in 1989, Panang is returning to her former home to be reunited with her mother Ceyla-Himali and younger sister Farha. Preparations for the big move have been underway at Hellabrunn‘s Elephant House for several weeks now. The female pachyderm will travel to Switzerland in a purpose-built vehicle operated by a specialist zoo animal transport company. On the day of departure, which is expected to take place in late November 2023, Panang will be led into a specially-designed heated transport crate by her keepers - following the commands that she and the other elephants at Hellabrunn have learned over the years in their daily medical behaviour training. To ensure a smooth journey, Panang is currently being introduced to the transport crate by her keepers so that she can become accustomed to the transport conditions prior to her trip. Daniel Materna, team leader of the Elephant House, explains: “The morning training creates a routine for the entire elephant herd, which should make the actual departure day as calm and relaxed as possible.”

To help her settle in well on arrival in Zurich and become acquainted with the elephant group and keepers there, Panang will be accompanied on her move by two keepers from Hellabrunn Zoo. “We will stay in Zurich with Panang for the first few days to show our colleagues there Panang’s characteristics and peculiarities and to help her settle into her new, old home,” adds Materna.

Born on 13 February 1989 at Zurich Zoo, Panang will move back to her former home to be reunited with her ageing mother Ceyla-Himali (born 1975) and her younger sister Fahra (born 2005), the latter of whom she has never met. “The idea behind this is to enable elephants in zoos to live together in matriarchal structures, that is in family groups led by a female relative, like their counterparts in the wild,” explains zoo director Rasem Baban.

The transition from free to protected contact between the keepers and animals enables elephants to maintain their natural social structure. In the latter elephant management system, human keepers no longer form part of the group through interference, thus allowing the herd to live in a natural matriarchy with a female elephant as the head of her female offspring. The EAZA Ex-situ Programme (EEP) for Asian Elephants has recommended that various family structures that were separated in the past should be restored. This is why Panang is being reunited with her mother Ceyla-Himali and her sister Farha at Zurich Zoo.

In addition to Panang, Hellabrunn Zoo is home to two female elephants, Mangala and Temi, as well as her son Otto and his father Gajendra. Whether and to what extent the elephant group at Hellabrunn will change in the future remains unclear. “For this, we have to wait for further recommendations from the EEP coordinator,” adds Rasem Baban.

The staff in Zurich are really looking forward to Panang's return: "We are confident that the family reunion will be a success and that Panang will also feel at home here at Zurich Zoo," says Cordula Galeffi, curator for elephants at Zurich Zoo.

Opened in June 2014, Kaeng Krachan Elephant Park at Zurich Zoo is one of the most modern elephant facilities in Europe. The complex is currently home to Five Asian elephants.

“Moving to Switzerland is a great opportunity for Panang. I am very pleased that she will be able to live there with her sister and mother. I wish her a safe journey and hope she settles in well on her arrival at Zurich Zoo,” says Verena Dietl, mayor and chair of the zoo’s supervisory board. Visitors to Hellabrunn Zoo will still be able to see Panang in the Elephant House until her departure in late November. “As soon as the move has been completed, we will of course share the news,” says zoo director Rasem Baban.

[Translate to English:] Elefant Panang beim Training
[Translate to English:] Elefant Panang beim Training