Sukari was wild born in Zimbabwe in 1984 and captured sometime in early 1985 to be imported to the United States. She was transferred to Reston Animal Park in Vienna, Virginia in August of 1985 where she spent almost 15 years as the sole elephant resident. At the Animal Park, Sukari gave rides and painted for the public. Sukari was transferred to the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere on September 15, 1999. She lived at the zoo for 15 years with several different elephants. She arrived at The Elephant Sanctuary on November 4, 2015 and became the 26th resident.
Sukari, sometimes called “Suki,” is a large elephant with large, round eyes. Her tusks are about one foot in length. She has two very small holes that are close together on the bottom portion of her right ear. She has reddish hair on the top of her head, and also has very long tail hair on the bottom side of her tail. Her most distinguishing feature is her very long trunk, which she uses to roll her hay into a “ball” before eating.
Sukari appears to love wallowing in the mud and enjoys all types of browse, especially large logs where she can tusk off the bark. She is not picky about food items, except for beets, which she does not like. Her favorite foods are apple-flavored horse treats and bananas. Caregivers have noted Sukari often holds her left ear out when she eats.
Sukari spent most of her life being handled under free contact and is now transitioning to protected contact. Sukari is described by the Care Staff as having a “sassy” personality, and is very attached to her companion, Rosie. Though smaller and older, Rosie and is said to be the dominant of the two. Sukari will try to push Rosie around, but Rosie will always let her know who is the “boss.” Sukari appears relaxed in the barn, often lying down for short “elephant naps.” She easily interacts with all the Staff and is cooperative in her training sessions. Sukari is a fast learner, she knows over 50 cues and is easily engaged by staff in learning new ones.
Sukari has no current medical issues or health concerns. Her name means “sweet as sugar” in Swahili.