Sydney Zoo | Saigon's Story
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Saigon's Story

World-class care for our elderly elephant.

Who is Saigon?

Around 62 years old, Saigon is one of Australia’s last circus elephants. She arrived in Australia with a number of young elephants when she was 3-5 years old. She travelled with the Perry Bros Circus til 2010 when she retired to the family farm.

With her best interests at heart, Saigon’s aging owners had been searching for a new home for her for many years. They decided that the purpose-built habitat at Sydney Zoo was the perfect place for Saigon. Here she receives expert care from her elephant keepers and on-site vet, and will soon be in the company of other elephants once more.

Why is she alone?

We are focused on making Saigon comfortable in her new home, allowing her to bond with her keepers and settle in to new routines at her own pace before introducing her to new elephant companions.

Saigon’s last elephant companion passed away around 12 years ago. Since then she has lived with a flock of sheep, a donkey and a miniature pony. She now has a herd of water buffalo for company - the three stooges: Larry, Curly and Moe!

You may notice that at times Saigon appears to be a bit stiff on her front right leg. Just like us, older animals can suffer from arthritis.

Our primary goal at Sydney Zoo is to provide the best care possible to help Saigon deal with any joint issues she may have. She receives daily specialist care from our expert elephant keepers and on-site vet. Her state-of-the-art habitat has been designed with elephant welfare as the top priority, and includes features such as:

  • A swimming pool allowing Saigon to cool off and rest her legs
  • Sand mounds for resting and sleeping against
  • Sprinklers and shade to keep cool
  • Gentle gradients and soft substrates that are easy to walk on and get up from
  • Mud wallows, dust baths and scratching posts for skin and foot health
  • Enrichment to encourage natural feeding habits
  • Specialised diet and exercise to help with joint stiffness and pain

Bumpy elbows?

Saigon has two large lumps on her front elbows - these are known as dermoid cysts and are quite common in elderly elephants. These cysts are benign and do not cause Saigon any pain or discomfort.

Did you know? Elephant social structures are VERY complex!

Sydney Zoo is committed to finding the right companions for Saigon. Younger elephants will look to her for guidance as she takes on a grandmotherly role.