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Kids get closer look at elephants at weekly zoo demos



If your kids ever have wondered what the story is behind the Oklahoma City Zoo's Asian elephants, Asha and Chandra, this weekend is their chance to find out. Every Saturday and Sunday, visitors are invited to witness the elephant behavior demonstrations.

The demos begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Oklahoma City Zoo, 2101 N.E. 50th St.

"There are a number of things we have to do to check the elephants' health, and we like to invite others to see what it takes to keep the animals healthy," said Wes Sims, pachyderm supervisor.

Asha and Chandra will allow the zookeepers to check their bodies for scratches and scrapes, examine their teeth and draw blood from behind their ears, but not without incentive.

"We can't force these elephants to do anything, so it's all about trust," Sims said. "They have to trust us enough to get that close to them. We also bring out treats like apples, carrots and melons to reward the elephants."

Following the demonstrations, the zookeepers stay to answer any questions the visitors may have about the elephants or the zoo. Sims said the children surprise him with their intelligent inquiries.

"Some of them ask how long a typical pregnancy is, how much food an elephant can eat and how much the elephants weigh. To which the answers are 22 months, 300 pounds per day and 6,000 pounds a piece," he said.

The demonstrations are free with zoo admission and are weather permitting. For more information, call 424-3344.

"Lauren Parajon

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