Zoo visitors may have wondered over the summer exactly what those strange looking "anklet bracelets" were on several of our elephants. Well, they weren't for decoration or security. The Zoo is participating in a special study measuring the movement of elephants in zoos across the country, and those are ankle-mounted GPS units that measure the elephants' movements, which may have important health implications.
Funded through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the GPS study gives zoos like the Indianapolis Zoo an opportunity to contribute to elephant research. We hope to gain a better understanding of how far zoo elephants walk, and the husbandry and exhibit factors that influence these distances. We are also using accelerometers to collect data on the amount of time elephants spend lying down to add to the behavioral data being collected by fellow researchers. The elephants don't mind a bit (that's our matriarch Sophi on the right showing off her "jewelry"), and the information will be really helpful in the planning process for future exhibits. Look quickly though - the bracelets come off on August 25!