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Gentle giant elephant leaves Howletts Wild Animal Park for a new life in the sun

One of a Kent wild animal park's star attractions who has enthralled visitors for 26 years has been driven off to a new zoo in Spain.

Jums, the magnificent bull elephant, was crated up on Monday and taken by lorry from Howletts at Bekesbourne near Canterbury to the Cabarceno Natural Park near Santander.

Howletts bosses say the swap is "beneficial" for the elephants and is part of a breeding exchange programme with a new bull coming from the Cabarceno to take his place.

Jums is one of the biggest bull elephants in Europe
Jums is one of the biggest bull elephants in Europe

Gentle giant Jums, who is 38 and weighs 6.5 tons and stands 11ft tall at the shoulder, has fathered around 17 off-spring since he arrived at Howletts in the early 80s.

Howletts animal director Neil Spooner said: "There is no doubt that Jums is one of our most popular elephants at Howletts. He’s been responsible for siring many offspring and is a wonderful father.

"The move will enable him to start a new family in Spain and it will be great for him to part of a new herd, as we currently have to separate him at various times here at Howletts.

He added: "He has done a wonderful job, but now it is a new bull’s turn. He’ll have his work cut out to impress our matriarch – Masa, but I’m confident he’ll win her over.

Elephant keeper Line Monange cleans Jums's feet
Elephant keeper Line Monange cleans Jums's feet

"It is vitally important for the success of breeding programmes to move male elephants around to different herds. It’s beneficial for the species and the elephants themselves."

Keepers at the park managed to coax him into a specially-designed five ton crate which was lifted onto the lorry by a crane.

Head of elephant section, Natalie Boyd said: "As you can imagine a lot of planning goes into moving any elephant – let alone a giant African elephant, like Jums.

"There has been a lot of behind the scenes work going on leading to this moment. All necessary actions have been taken so his journey was as smooth and stress free as possible with one of his keepers travelling with him."

Jums in the crate
Jums in the crate

The new bull elephant, 16-year-old Coco, is expected to arrive at Howletts later on this week and will spend some time getting used to his new surroundings.

Keepers say they are confident that he will soon become a visitor favourite, just like Jums.

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