Denver Zoo Tests New Elephant Living Arrangements

ABC News' Clayton Sandell talks to a zoologist about new research that suggests putting male elephants together will allow older animals to "teach" younger ones about adult behavior and socialization.
12:18 | 02/01/17

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Transcript for Denver Zoo Tests New Elephant Living Arrangements
Its claims and Eleanor EBC news coming to you on a very chilly day here at the Denver zoo with some special guests here we're at the elephant exhibit here at the Denver zoo. And here with David Hyde who it. Zoo keeper here is it the right title how to correct. And you have worked with elephants for a long time what is going on sixteen years appeared to resume all right well first of all we have a hope. Lot to talk about these elephants here today but introduces we hear that. Well are hurting here all male elephants Asian elephants this big guy guy right here in front of this this is Graf killed they're 47 year old. You're looking at the largest animal Colorado. 1110111000. Pounds and behind him the smaller one right here to our left Billy. Haley is tiger's old he is 7000 homes in in behind Billy. Is bode bode is twelve years. Old and 9009000. Pounds of cash so what people are looking at here is actually something. Rather remarkable because. Zoo and I think maybe a lot of people opposed to like me are hard things if they aren't really thinking about. The mix of animals avenue and an exhibit males vs females but you're looking at all males here witches. Kind of unusual right correct specially with Asian elephants. Males there's not much research or even other zoos that have Asian elephant males solely put together and I heard situation like we do here. An in the past. He you know past history you kept them apart why. Well when we got and they are all different sizes we had a small medium and large. We learned billion bode to catch up a little especially with Groucho. Bill abode he is now the same height as you know in their 2000 pounds. A piece so we feel like they could handle any situation given where. If brought to one's assert his dome. I guess historically there was worry that you would put big male elephants together and and a pen together and they would they would fight they would hurry to. Correct. Again not much has been seen or done with and that. But. They've been held in in this situation they could see each other and we can based off their behaviors. We knew we were pretty confident that. They were going to do appropriate behaviors and with each other. I mean you talked about the weights of some of these things. Animals here they could if they got into it probably be some serious damage correct yes. Billion bode you know they they were the first ones we put together and they definitely me. We're showing play fighting which is pretty much you know they're both play folder younger. And you see they got some you know little small superficial scrapes but that's about it. Yeah but we we took extra measures. Extra staff around and made sure that if if it was gonna go the wrong way we would have the appropriate measures to at least give him separated. And safe places. Sit talk about the the in the wild and it was thought that elephants and elephants in the wild didn't interact much Los they were fighting over amazed or what what. What are you trying to to replicate here. Yeah especially. Lot of research has been done with African elephant especially males now. They're more visible with the Asian elephants in in the areas they Arian in the thirteen countries that still have them in the wild. It's harnessing. So not much has been seen or even done so. About researching these guys in and seeing what they do you have a do interact but here in Denver zoo we felt with this big behaviors they were shown us. It was the appropriate thing it was the right time to but these three together. Okay an auto remind people who are watching right now right below the screen there if you want a type a sort comments. We'll try to get to as many questions. As you Havel trying to answer. Put your questions two gave here. I take it when you start this process of of trying to put these guys together or seeing of those get together you don't just open the gates and throw him in there and see how it goes it's. It takes time it takes a lot of time. It takes time of in certain areas we have here in in the elephant house they can be next to each other they can take each other. One thing that we want to make sure that with a do they would. For that reason if they did start showing inappropriate behaviors they would come to us so we started training that affect lot of training here is done with reinforcement. Right so if they were even in a mindset. Be an aggressive because at column back to us and they would get reinforced for that. So it's baby steps and away for hours before before you get him and yes we have to see a lot of appropriate behaviors even when food was introduced Wright say. We doing like food competition. Groucho who loves his head. And so does the other boys. Route to a specially page so we want me feared that that winning food competition over that too. Which show the appropriate behaviors like get away from my meal and then they would go to zero. And all of this you're not forcing them to be together you're basically giving them a choice of whether or not they want to do this sir creek. Yet they if they want walkway they have all this space here mrs. currently right now with nature. We go to elephant passages is five. One acre yards than that can be rotated. It's one big circle in if they wanted to go the other side but not to have this base making. So the first time you tried this the first time you actually got them in in an enclosure together. Out of very well what we were expected all the behaviors that we had seen before in the situations where they were next to each other and that concerns in space right it was all. Great behaviors appropriate behaviors. Groucho did you know show his dominance. You know. This is mine get away. Urgency right now Billy's approaching him kind of cautiously which is an appropriate behavior. One of the things that is fascinating to me is. Of course an elephant is known for its strong and you can tell a lot about how there are getting along or not getting along. Buying what they're doing with their mom explains some also a behaviors he also lit if some. Reconciliation behaviors where if you know ground so does you know. A little bit of dominance along to Billie willingly turn in kind of rapid strong housing and OK are you reducing. Honed his strong then when they greet each other republic mr. content to other right. They'll smell each other's feet. But also. Appropriate behavior they're gonna younger ones are going back up and children protect. I don't know make sure he's not going to doing things today for a mr. with this task it's all about the trunk if they're if they're keeping natural go away safe that sort of assignment there in the defense. Posture and in away but if there. As you said putting trumpeting to have his mouth merely. Yes that's a friendly interaction yeah yeah yeah it's it's like if that reconciliation. They're going to make here. You know they're okay with each other known feasts like word you've been traveling in you know. It's about opening mouth of also would even be right. Mary wants to know how big the whole elephant house compound is here the numbers you talked about little bit but how big is the whole thing that trailed elephant pass it just ten acres ten acres with five. One acre yards. Spread in the circle. Inside the elephant house there is eight bedrooms and a thousand square feet you okay and in public viewing what we called partners because Gordon. Meet your guests of the apartment. Obvious when he 200. Very cool all right Robyn wants to know the larger one crops are looks like his. What happened to easier looks like he's been a file we get that all the time not to stick a long time ago that the Bronx new. How and they gave him some medicine in your brain has those ear rings are very accessible. Because a secondary infection and they had different here. Cut so he's got a is that Mr. Spock here he's got a mr. Specter go in will pay their little little breakfast correct. And they reminded us just to say you guys know we're watching there are mine is not to get too close because grotto has inked and the twelve foot. Reach on that front that you know so it only euthanize stray begin their trunk that's a 100000 muscle fibers. They can live not to lift 500 panels capable program. And there's no bones it was very flexible he writes right now just lose like that. There are some appropriate RA a pencil now what was that what happens. Bode dilute it to close while gradually eating obviously don't know. This is mine you'll pictures. So that's part of what you're going forward that teaching of proper beat me. We're let them teach each other this is mental stimulation. Is the best enrichment that we moved him in return Meehan. There environment while I'm and you sort that brings and that's when you're. You're trying to. Give them. More than been in keeping them separate buy themselves this this enriches their lives and well correct. This is all about him teaching together and in some some areas like over here on arbor age. Groucho in building process but Annan will so we're kind of hoping that bode well it goes to the process for leaking going to different yard that way of got a couple questions on here about their tusks why of the costs not. Law they're shorter rooms yet well for Brody who is around back there yet he rambunctious and chips is back. Chips. Groucho his were about three foot long and he broke the carrying you know some this enrichment plant with these logs themselves. In the crack started going towards his head so we. It it took awhile but we took a diving put it wiring from the back. So we saw bode teaching others there a second ago fifty asks do the younger ones ever teach the old ones and well that's it there are younger ones are definitely more confident and not so is he's. He's we'll regiment he's more stern his his years in others news has you know. Not to lexis Kaye invite certain things. But yes definitely the younger ones are heard. By putting them in their route to their teachings and things like he's got to be the dominant he's gotten he's got to show them it wouldn't. And this is something that not a lot of other zoos are doing correct. There's and others but Birmingham's in Alabama and they are doing this with African males. And but they have only males we have only male Asian elephants. They're similar hazards like brokered you have a couple of similar age. Brother meals. But there's females in their hurt well. Jerry so. And they will do this all day though as long as they want it they had their common asylum in morning. And when once we see maybe the boys are known route of this policy is paid then we will put in different areas in the in. You know and then also pouting and together how do you Meehan right next to each other options things have they ever gotten into it a little bit being each other stresses. Just a couple of scratches especially I mean not to know but it. But the boys over there Lillian bode they definitely they play finality to the point even in this in this weather now. Big high. So there they wanna cool until soft services free appropriate whether we're. And testing. All right well guys thank you for joining us we're again here at the Denver zoo at the Denver zoo telling the in the name at the Toyota over the passage. Here's the Denver zoo. Kind of showing you how they are trying to. Put here at male elephants together here in and have them teach each other few things. What you guys could join us. We'll have Connors zoom producer Connor zoom in on him here for second gave thank you for joining us really appreciate organizer. And I got we will see you next they care.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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