With gratitude to Jesse Golden for sharing, "Wild Times," the newsletter for members of the Wildlife Safari, discusses the beginnings of said park thanks to naturalist and businessman Frank Hart.
In 1972 Frank was able to convince his employer, Walker and Lee, to develop 600 acres in Winston, Oregon. The site was ideal for a large reserve that could display animals from around the world in a natural setting. With rolling hills abundant in foliage and water resources closely resembling African and Asian terrain, a large variety of animal life could be supported. Wildlife Safari opened the next year.
|Courtesy of Wild Times, Spring 2013|
The article goes on to state in the 1970s, Mr. Hart decided the park needed elephants. He found a package deal in South Africa of 12 calves for sale for $64,000. On return to Oregon from picking the animals up in New York, 6 of the animals were sold, netting $64,000, repaying the loan in full and, in essence, 6 elephants residing at the park gratuitously.
Parts of this tale can be confirmed via news articles from the period, also linking the animals with a much larger group distributed world-wide. 25 elephants were originally captured by Wolfgang Delfs ( or Delfts, according to other spellings ), their family herd culled by population management officials in Kruger National Park. In the first shipment of elephants out of South Africa by plane, 15 elephants were bound for Frankfurt, Germany on the Lufthansa on May 18, 1979. 12 elephants from this shipment were bound for the United States, purchased by Wildlife Safari. 3 more animals were sold to zoos in Sweden and Britain. A week later, 10 more animals were to be shipped to the United States. All the animals ( 22 purchased by American buyers, 3 by European ) ranged from 6 months in age to 2.5 years.
With taking both sources into account, many of the animals seemingly can be identified by searching 1979 elephant transfers in the North American Regional Studbook for the African Elephant, but not without other questions raised. The International Animal Exchange, operated by the Hunt Brothers out of Ferndale, Michigan, sold 6 elephants in May 1979, shortly after the export date of Delfts' 12 to America. The North Carolina Zoo received four females on May 26 ( Zelda, Tinker, Nita & Cookie ). The Rochester Zoo in Seneca, New York, received two females on May 29 ( Ginny C & Lilac ). If these six were the animals Frank Hart sold on his cross-country trip returning from New York, the involvement of International Animal Exchange is brought into question.
Only three animals are listed arriving to Wildlife Safari on May 29 - the same date of arrival as the New York cows ( male Tanga; females Moshi, Nanda ). Six days prior, a female Mara was transferred from Wildlife Safari to King's Island amusement park in Ohio.
With the Studbook listings of these 10 animals, assuming they are all of the Delfts shipment, 2 are still missing. However, possibly Mara was transferred out pending arrival of the new imports during Frank Hart's trip east to New York. That would leave 3 elephants missing of the 6 reportedly arriving to Wildlife Safari in 1979.
News articles announcing the beginnings of World Wildlife Safari boast herds of both African and Asian elephants. Records of five Africans can be found arriving to the Winston park prior to the Delfts imports of 1979. Alice & Tiki arrived together in early September 1972 from Vivo Animales, Texas. Sneeze arrived later that month from the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisconsin. A fourth young African arrived at an unknown time but died in December that year. Five years later, female Tanish arrived in May 1977.
With these animals, by the addition of the three documented Delfts Africans, the herd of African elephants at Winston Safari would have totaled 7 - Alice, Tiki, Sneeze, Tanish, Tanga, Moshi & Nanda. This does not corraborate with the facility's recent newsletter stating Mr. Hart's additions gave the facility 6 elephants.
|Moshi, Columbus Zoo, 08/2009|
Photo © B Whitebread
Referencing the original story of 15 elephants shipped to Frankfurt, three were destined for European locations ( Sweden & Britain ). Elephant.se lists 2 possibilities. Nyoka is listed arriving to the Boras Zoo from Kruger National Park on May 20. Ndogo also arrived from Kruger to Boras, though no specific date is given for the year 1979. If these two animals are correctly correlated with this shipment, one is still unaccounted for, presumably purchased by an exhibitor in Britain.
As stated earlier, the remaining ten elephants were scheduled to be shipped out of Southern Africa from the original group of 25 a week following the first shipment. the identity and relocation of these animals is unknown.
More information is sought regarding this import group of animals.
>> "A Real Jumbo Cargo," The Leader-Post, 05/16/1979
>> "Baby Elephants Flying Jumbo," Star-News, 05/19/1979
>> "Passengers Big Babies," Toledo Blade, 05/19/1979
>> "Wild Times," Spring 2013
>> North American Regional Studbook for the African Elephant