Donna, formerly known as Eloise, was born in the wilds of Zimbabwe in 1980. At the age of two, she was captured and brought to the United States and sold to the Audubon Zoo in 1982, where she lived for eight years. Donna arrived at the Oakland Zoo in California on April 24, 1990, and resided with African male elephant Osh and African females M'Dunda and Lisa.
After the loss of Donna’s companions, M’Dunda in 2019, and Lisa, in 2023, Oakland Zoo explored all opportunities for Donna. With the understanding that elephants’ social lives are critical in supporting their well-being, the zoo chose for Donna to spend her remaining years at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, where other female African elephants of similar age would provide companionship and fulfill her social needs.
Donna arrived at The Elephant Sanctuary on September 13, 2023, becoming the 32nd elephant resident.
Donna can be distinguished by her long legs, slender face, a full tail of hair, and a prominently arched back. She weighs over 8,500 pounds and stands nine feet, one inch tall. Her demeanor reflects the dominance typical of African elephants, with frequent displays of natural behaviors such as ear flaring and carrying her trunk high.
In her daily routine, Donna can be observed rolling in mud wallows, gracefully traversing her natural habitat, and toting the tire she brought all the way from California, day or night. She often chooses to travel her expansive habitat solo but returns to interact with her companions Flora, Tange, and Sukari, whether to exchange greetings, contentedly graze in each other's proximity, or occasionally indulge in a rejuvenating firehose bath.
Care Staff have taken note of her preferred food selections, like coconut water, juicy oranges, crisp cucumbers, succulent watermelons, and sweet bananas. She also has shown a penchant for palm leaves and artichokes, which she generously shares with her herd mates, Flora, Tange, and Sukari.
September 13, 2023