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Frequently Asked Questions

How old is Lucky?

Lucky arrived at the San Antonio Zoo in 1962 at the age of two. She is 54 years old and has lived longer than the average elephant either in the wild or in the Zoo.

Is Lucky’s habitat adequate? 

Yes. Lucky’s habitat meets the necessary requirements set forth by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). AZA accreditation standards are science-based and continue to be re-evaluated, including the mandatory standards for elephants.  AZA’s Standards for Elephant Management and Care allow the San Antonio Zoo to appropriately maintain these magnificent animals and require a significant commitment of staff and resources. The San Antonio Zoo is meeting these commitments and continuously strive towards improving its elephant program.

Does Lucky have a foot infection or foot problems?

Lucky shows no signs of chronic foot problems. Zookeepers and our Zoo veteranarians are trained in preventive health care methods especially in elephant foot care. Her feet are currently in excellent condition.

How is Lucky’s overall health?

Two full-time veterinarians monitor Lucky’s health regularly. She receives baths and is examined on a daily basis. The examinations include her eyes, ears, mouth and feet. She is also trained to assist keepers and veterinarians in providing the care she requires as part of her preventative health care plan. The veterinarians are also available around the clock to respond to any health issues that may arise. She is fit and healthy.

Why does Lucky rock back and fourth?

This behavior usually indicates an expectation. When Lucky is observed swaying back and fourth or side-to-side, that is her way of exhibiting an anxious or impatient behavior. She usually does this when she wants food, enrichment time, a bath, or when she wants access into her barn and sometimes when she just wants attention by the group of keepers who spoil her daily. 

Is Lucky’s pool adequate?

Yes. The water is deep enough that she can totally submerge. The pool also has a continuous fresh water supply, which helps keep the pool clean and cool.

How often is the pool cleaned and drained?

The pool is cleaned and drained as needed. It differs between the summer and the winter months. Algae grows quickly during the summer, so the pool is drained and cleaned every three to four days. 

Will the San Antonio Zoo get another Asian elephant?

No. The Zoo will eventually have African elephants as part of the Africa Live! habitat. The existing elephant exhibit will be reconstructed, the layout expanded, and the elephant barn enlarged.

Why is it important for Lucky to stay at the San Antonio Zoo?

Lucky is well taken care of; she is healthy and receives consistent veterinary care. She knows her habitat; she is familiar with her zookeepers and staff that care for her 365 days year; and regardless of all the variables, there is no question that a move from the San Antonio Zoo would be stressful.

How does the San Antonio Zoo help in elephant conservation?

The San Antonio Zoo has been involved in elephant conservation and research since 1997. We support or have supported the following:

• SSP Assessment of Reproductive Status in Captive Elephants
• Sumatra Elephant Fund
• Bushmeat Crisis Task Force
• Elephant Transit Home in Sri Lanka:
• One year's sponsorship of Asian orphan
• International Elephant Foundation
• National Elephant Center
• 96 Elephants

Research and Studies include:

• International Elephant Foundation’s EEHV Research Weekly blood samples from the Zoo’s Asian elephant as part of an ongoing International Elephant Foundation project to investigate the Endotheliotropic Elephant Herpes Virus (EEHV).  Weekly blood collection will continue for a two-year span and will be used to create a comprehensive database of the serologic status of Asian elephants in North America. Lucky does not show signs of EEHV.

• African Elephant Immunocontraception Study This trial involving African elephants in North American zoos was intended to test the SpayVac contraceptive vaccine and compare its performance to that of the conventional vaccine.  An aqueous and a non-aqueous formulation of the single-dose, long-lasting vaccine was tested to provide preliminary data before using SpayVac on elephants in Africa. The Zoo’s African elephant was a participant in this study.  

• Elephant TAG Investigation of Potential Use of Laparoscopy. The San Antonio Zoo, in cooperation with the Elephant Taxon Advisory Group, which is a multi-institutional collaborative group made of experts from various accredited Zoo’s, has been formed to investigate the potential use of laparoscopy in elephants. The development of laparoscopic equipment and techniques through such procedures will potentially improve the general health of captive animals and aid conservation efforts of both captive and free-ranging elephants. In the future, laparoscopy on elephants could address abdominal and thoracic diseases, reproductive procedures, bacterial and viral disease diagnosis, and visual assessment and biopsy of abdominal organs.

What other conservation work do you do with animals?

The list is extensive, please visit for more information.

Where do the San Antonio Zoo’s Animals come from?

Almost all are captive born and came from an accredited zoo or aquarium.

You currently have 9,000 animals. Is your facility equipped to house that many animals?

Yes, but keep in mind this included smaller animals such as invertebrates, fish, butterflies, etc. 

Facts About the San Antonio Zoo

• Established in 1914
• Over 1,000,000 guests annually and growing (60% local; 40% tourist)
• The San Antonio Zoo is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization
• Open 365 days a year at 9:00 a.m.
• The Zoo spans 56 acres. Thirty-five acres are public pathways and exhibits
• The Zoo houses over 9,000 animals of 750 species
• One of the first “cageless” zoos in the United States
• Received numerous awards for captive propagation and participate in over 230 endangered species programs
• The second Zoo in North America to receive the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accreditation. Fewer than 10% of the approximately 2,800 animal exhibitors licensed by the  United States Department of Agriculture are AZA accredited!
• One of the largest bird collections in the country
• Acclaimed breeding programs for endangered and threatened species
• The first zoo in the country to breed the endangered whooping cranes
• Visited by nearly 80,000 school children each year
• First to reproduce the endangered white rhinoceros in North America
• The first to hatch and rear Caribbean flamingos
• Successfully bred 53 endangered snow leopards since 1970
• Built a $12 million AFRICA LIVE! phase I safari-like exhibit
• Opened a $10 million AFRICA LIVE! 2 exhibit
• Specialized education adventures offered for all ages
• The only zoo in the country to have separate children’s zoo area, Kronkosky’s Tiny Tot Nature Spot, designed for kids 5 and under
• Listed as the #1 tourist spot by Nickelodeon’s ParentsConnection
• Only zoo in the country to have a senior veterinarian on staff that is double boarded in zoo medicine and in reptile and amphibian medicine 
• Built an $8 million Zootennial Plaza that includes a new designed carousel and restaurant; a much needed revenue source to continue to build, expand, and refurbish new and existing habitats