African elephants are known to browse the sides of Mount Kilimanjaro - which can be snow covered year round. Cold weather is something that their high metabolism can handle with a mean internal body temperature of 109 degrees Fahrenheit. But, it is true that African elephants must have up to 30 km of walking exercise each day. Luckily, Cheyenne Mountain has a number of hiking and fire line trails - which any elephant can handle - and can help reduce dangerous flammable underbrush by eating it. Colorado Forest Service should consider an open contract for trail maintenance by the zoo's elephants. The only other requirement is deep human-elephant training so zoo keepers are in tune with each elephant's personality. As eldest female elephant, Joni, will be expected to be the matriarch of the herd - and she will need to earn it from the current matriarch. That is an adjustment that might be difficult initially - especially if the elephants speak slightly different dialects of African elephant language. But generally, female elephants learn to get along quickly. A benefit of high altitude living for Joni will be a reduced risk of developing tuberculosis because the air is less humid than Greenville. If the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo could consider a larger exercise program for the elephants, and give them a chance to help protect the local communities from forest fires, the African elephants should be quite happy living there.
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