Children in Niue are hoping to see Anjalee the elephant from Sri Lanka again. She spend 3 months in quarantine in Niue before spending the last five years at Auckland Zoo. BCN high school student reporter Jorja Tuhipa (pictured left) recall seeing Anjalee for the first time and how this baby elephant captured the hearts of the children and adults alike.
The very first time I got to see an elephant in real life that I can remember of was in 2015, when Anjalee traveled all the way from Shri-Lanka to Niue. Anjalee was all Niue could talk about during the three months she resided at Avatele and still to this day is she a proud topic of discussion. I think we also wanted to be part of her life journey.
To say I was shocked when I first met Anjalee would be an understatement. Niue isn’t an island with many large animals, so an elephant will forever be written down in history for us.
I always tried to hide my excitement whenever I would visit Anjalee with my family. We would stand on the little deck that was built especially for visitors to be able to get a good look at her from the other side of the fence. Sometimes she would be in a good mood and come out to meet us, but sometimes I thought she was sad, maybe homesick.
I remember how scared I was of her keepers when I was asked to throw food over the fence for her. My sister Gabi however had no hesitation in collecting the biggest coconut leaves from the pile and throwing it over for Anjalee.
Anjalee was an extremely popular attraction during her short stay here in Niue. We only have two schools here in Niue and there were regular school trips to see her. There were other groups like the village Girls and Boys brigades all around Niue would visit her.
Sadly, we found out towards the end of last year that Anjalee and the other female elephant Burma will be leaving Auckland zoo soon because they need to start their own families.
According to a statement from Auckland Zoo, the exact location of their new home has not yet been determined but that she will go somewhere that will ensure her future needs can be met.
I will always be grateful for being able to feature in one of the Auckland Zoo’s episodes on Anjalee’s journey with my younger sister Gabi. It was basically to tell us more about where Anjalee was from and where she was going to next.
I remember this would have been one of my first times being interviewed and filmed for TV. It was definitely a nerve-wrecking moment for me but luckily the interview was short and I barely spoke. Just the casual nod of the head every so often and Gabi’s short replies were enough to make the cut.
Late last year BCN news reporter in covering the story communicated with the Auckland Zoo and asked if it was possible to have live cameras installed in the elephant habitat so that the children in Niue will be able to see her before she leaves. I hope that this will come true because it is highly unlikely that we will be able to fly overseas to see her before she leaves New Zealand.
I’m sure there are many teenagers and kids on the island who like me, would love to see Anjalee in her Auckland Zoo habitat at least one last time before she leaves New Zealand so I hope that live cam will be available soon.
If not, then I wish Anjalee and Burma all the best in their new home. Koe kia ma kapitiga. To manatu tumau e mautolu a koe. (Goodbye dear friend. We will always remember you)