Merry Christmas for Suki the Elephant!

Suki is an Asian elephant at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium who is about to celebrate her 58th Christmas! Born in the wild around 1964 she spent her first few years as a calf with a private owner. When she became too large and hard to handle the owner sold her to a circus. But Suki was not ready for that environment, either. So from there she went into a zoo. In 1996 she finally arrived here at the PDZA and her life has been much better ever since. Why? Because Suki had always displayed aggressive “don’t come near me” behavior. But when she arrived at the PDZA keepers there had transitioned to a new method called “Protected Contact.” The basic principle of this method is to reward good behavior, and never punish anything else. Suki quickly adapted to this, and soon responded to her keeper amazingly well. She has also adapted to the NW summer and winter weather, but if it is too chilly or too hot the zoo has a large indoor enclosure for her. And there, Suki does some entertaining things that you can easily see. I highly encourage you to go see her. She is currently much older than average for an elephant, and there is no telling how much longer her life will last, but she is in very good shape for now. And it’s a great time to visit for the PDZA “Zoo Lights” also.

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