Sutton arrives at Noah's Ark

Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm trumpets its excitement as it welcomes African Elephant, Sutton, to the herd.

Sutton, a young African Bull Elephant, has arrived safely at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm’s 20-acre Elephant Eden, the UK’s largest bachelor elephant habitat.

Sutton joins 31-year-old Shaka and 17-year-old Janu. Sutton was born in 2014 at West Midland Safari Park and was the first male elephant in the world to be born by artificial insemination, using semen from a wild bull.

Chris Wilkinson, Curator at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm, said “As a young male elephant, Sutton’s migration away from the maternal herd replicates the next natural step in his development.”

Wilkinson continued, “In the wild, male elephants naturally group together with other solitary males to form bachelor groups. These bachelor groupings are essential for young bulls to learn social skills and new behaviours from the older males. The habitat at Noah’s Ark, including its 20-acre paddock and willow plantation, provides the perfect environment for Sutton to continue his development’.

African Elephants are endangered, as listed by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) and therefore, breeding within zoos is carefully coordinated.

Head Keeper of Elephants at West Midland Safari Park, Andy Plumb, said “With the wild population declining, African elephants face an uncertain future. Sutton’s move to Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm will enable him to continue his development and hopefully go on to become a successful breeding bull at another collection, further supporting and protecting the survival of elephants into the future.” 

The EAZA Ex-Situ Programme (EEP) for African Elephants has recommended Sutton’s transfer to Noah’s Ark. The EEP's international breeding programme supports conservation through breeding species, including African elephants, which are at risk of extinction in the wild. Sutton’s arrival forms part of Noah’s Ark’s strategic vision to become Europe’s leading Bull facility.

As a charity, Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm’s aims are conservation, education and wellbeing. Larry Bush, Managing Director of Noah’s Ark said “Welcoming Sutton to our Elephant herd not only allows us to support the vital conservation efforts of the International Breeding Programme, but also enables us to continue to educate our visitors and wider community about this majestic species and to inspire the next generation of conservationists.”

Dr Jo Judge, CEO of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums said: “We are proud that our members such as Noah’s Ark are world leaders in elephant care. I know that Sutton will have an incredible home there and will be given the very best care by expert keepers and be able to learn natural behaviours from Shaka and Janu.

African Elephants face extinction. Zoos such as Noah’s Ark are dedicated to ensuring that will not be the case.”

Andy Plumb explained “Although the West Midland Safari Park keepers are sad to see him go, the move will see Sutton flourish as he learns the skills and characteristics of a bull elephant, from his new, older male companions, Shaka and Janu.”

Chris Wilkinson went on to say “Sutton’s introduction to the resident bulls at Noah’s Ark will be phased and gradual. The state-of-the-art elephant house and outside space has been carefully designed to support this. The elephants are provided with separate sleeping areas, whilst also ensuring plenty of space for each elephant, both inside and out.”

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