Narrating the correlation of elephants as related to their import, groupings, breeding and transfers,
along with other elephant related topics.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Studbook Mysteries - Ruth/Kenna

Six Flags Wild Safari and Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, celebrated their first and only elephant birth in November 1981. The calf was sired by Rip, the last of six imported males still residing at the park. Her mother was Tanya, one of four female African elephants purchased from Hemmingford Parc Safari in Canada to join a number of other females imported with the six males from the Chipperfield organization in Uganda, Africa.

When the calf was two years old, Kenna was sold to the Lion Country Safari location in Grand Prairie, Texas, a location known for distributing and dealing a high number of African elephants throughout the 1980s. It was here that Kenna's identity was temporarily lost, renamed Ruth when purchased by elephant owner, operator and consultant Don Meyer of Jo-Don Farms.

Ruth and other elephants of both species were leased as ride elephants to many different locations while owned by Jo-Don Farms. In late October 1998, Meyer sold his last two elephants, Ruth and Luella, to Brownsville's Gladys Porter Zoo in Texas. Luella died 12 years later relating to a cardiovascular viral infection, leaving the zoo with only two elephants - Ruth and their formerly successful breeding bull, Macho. After Macho's death in March 2005, the Brownsville zoo was left with a decision to acquire more elephants and expand their facility in compliance with recommendations from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums or relocate their single elephant and close their exhibit permanently.

Less than two years later, Ruth was transferred to the Milwaukee County Zoo in Wisconsin, becoming a companion animal for the northern zoo's single elephant Brittany. Three months prior, 49 year old Lucy had passed away, leaving Milwaukee in the same dilemma as the Gladys Porter Zoo. With the acquisition of Ruth, the Milwaukee County Zoo continued their elephant exhibit, while that of the Gladys Porter Zoo was permanently closed.

Brittany and Ruth at the Milwaukee County Zoo
Photo Courtesy of Danielle Faucett

Studbook Mystery

In the 2000 & 2003 editions of the studbook, elephant #168 has the following information listed:

Ruth, African Female, SB #168
1979 - Born Africa
1980 - Capture
1981 - Grand Prairie
31 Oct 1985 - Oak Creek
Jun 1986 - Minnesota
01 Nov 1987 - Rio Grande
25 Feb 1988 - Oak Creek
05 Mar 1988 - Lowry
31 Oct 1990 - Oak Creek
25 Oct 1998 - Brownsville
- Elephant is named as Ruth at all locations.

In the 2000 & 2003 editions of the studbook, elephant #209 has the following information listed:

Kenna, African Female, SB #209
02 Nov 1981 - Born Jacks Twp to 88 & 58
1984 - Ferndale
- Elephant is named as Kenna at both locations; Lost to Follow-up


In the 2008 edition of the studbook, elephant #168 has the following information listed:

Kenna/Ruth, African Female, SB #168
02 Nov 1981 - Born Jacks Twp to 88 & 58
12 Dec 1983 - Grand Prairie
31 Oct 1985 - Oak Creek
25 Oct 1998 - Brownsville
14 Dec 2006 - Milwaukee
Elephant is named Kenna at Jacks Twp & Grand Prairie, renamed Ruth at Oak Creek and proceeding locations.

In the 2000 & 2003 editions of the studbook, elephant #209 is not listed, as it only consists of living elephants.


The question arises, were these elephants two different individuals? Were they merged because of a previous error? If they are the same elephant, what is the reasoning for the omissions between Grand Prairie and Brownsville (except Oak Creek) in the 2008 edition? Any help and insight would be greatly appreciated. Please disregard the elephant database in this matter, as it has been updated from both scenarios and is incorrect at this point in time. Ryan

//"Ruth/Kenna, Six Flags/Milwaukee," Elephant Gossip on Facebook, 12/09/2008

Studbook Mystery - Solved

From 1985 to 1998 Ruth was owned by the same company, Jo-Don Farms. She was a ride elephant that went to all those locations temporarily. In Brownsville, DNA testing was done on her which indicated that she was in fact Kenna. I was told they believe the mistake occurred while she was owned by Grand Prairie? They were an animal broker. Luella went to Brownsville with Ruth, who is now dead. As far as I know, Ruth is the only former JD elephant thats actually still alive.

//Danielle Faucett, 01/26/2009

For Additional Information:
>> "Brownsville zoo sending Ruth the elephant to Milwaukee,", 12/06/2006

>> "New African Elephant Now on Exhibit at the Milwaukee County Zoo,", 12/15/2006

>> "Ruth/Kenna, Six Flags/Milwaukee," Elephant Gossip on Facebook, 12/09/2008

>> Milwaukee County Zoo at

>> Gladys Porter Zoo at

>> Jo-Don Farms at

1 comment:

  1. I do not believe that Don sold the elephants to Brownsville, I was under the impression that they were only house there and the owner was Peace River, I could be incorrect. TMS


I eagerly anticipate associating with new individuals with an interest or history in elephants, elephant history and elephant record keeping. If you have further information regarding the animals or locations questioned in the article, please leave a comment or message me in an effort to complete their records for elephant historians.