In the past 25 years, the wild African elephant population has dropped from 1.6 million to fewer than 500,000. Roger Williams Park Zoo is dedicated to the conservation of these majestic land giants. We strive to aid conservation efforts through public outreach and our contributions to research in the U.S., and by funding elephant conservation projects worldwide. In the past decade, we have dedicated an immeasurable amount of staff time and expertise, and to date we will have invested thousands of dollars to improve the future prospects for the African Elephant.
We are thrilled to share that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a near-total ban on the commercial trade of African elephant ivory in the United States (the world's second largest illegal ivory market). This final rule, effective July 6, 2016, restricts the sale of ivory to only legally imported, genuine antiques and musical instruments, as well as limit the import of sport-hunted trophies, prohibits the sale of ivory that was part of a move or household inheritance, and places prohibitions and restrictions on foreign commercial and noncommercial enterprise.
These measures will ensure a future for elephants in the wild, and help to significantly reduce the rampant killings in their native habitat. Learn more.
Roger Williams Park Zoo currently has three female African elephants, Alice, Ginny and Kate, as part of our Fabric of Africa exhibit area. Having these wonderful creatures in our Zoo not only brings people closer to nature, but also makes it possible for us to educate the public on elephant conservation issues and urges them to take action locally.
Our elephants also aid us in the research of elephant reproductive cycles. We had tried for a number of years to artificially inseminate one of our females to support the captive elephant population. This procedure was unfortunately not successful. However, we continue to provide samples in support of this crucial research to animal research.
Dr. Charles Foley began The Tarangire Elephant Project (TEP) in 1993 as part of his study of the effects of poaching on African elephants. He has been collecting demographic data on the northern sub-population of elephants almost continuously since then. Dr. Foley and his staff know more than 800 elephants individually, which is probably the second largest elephant database in Africa – second only to that of Amboseli National Park. Important research focuses on the impact of poaching on elephant social systems, and is the first project to carry out hormonal studies of female elephants in the wild. Roger Williams Park Zoo is funding a permanent in-country employment position to foster a positive human-to-elephant relationship, and teach villagers how to coexist peacefully and safely with elephants. To date the Zoo has donated more than $70,000 to this project.
Your support of the Zoo through the purchase of memberships, admission tickets, and participation in our fundraising events helps to support our elephant conservation efforts locally and throughout the world.
In addition, please read below about another very important initiative that the Zoo is undertaking this summer, and consider becoming an active elephant conservationist in your own local community.
RWP Zoo partners with the Wildlife Conservation Society’s 96 Elephants Campaign to raise public awareness of the elephant poaching-crisis in Africa. Poachers kill about 96 elephants each day for their ivory. Poachers carve the ivory into intricate designs and sell to unknowing consumers throughout the world. You might be surprised to hear that the United States is the second largest illegal ivory market in the world, next to China as number one.