Proposed elephant preserve in Tehama County charges forward

Feb 10, 2015 7:30 PM by Charlene Cheng

The climate in Tehama County boasts hot, dry summer, with cool, wet winters, perfect for supporting its multi-million dollar agriculture industry.

Now, a group of conservationists has recognized its value for another use.

"We have a Mediterranean climate much like South Africa, so elephants have evolved in a weather very similar to California. So they can acclimate and adapt very quickly to that," said Dr. Joel Parrott, President & CEO of Oakland Zoo.

The proposed project, officially known as the Tembo Preserve, would someday house 40 to 50 African elephants in Northern Tehama County's former Diamond Ranch.

The 5,000 acres would provide a much-needed environment to nurture this population.

"They're currently listed as threatened, but it's going to be a short time before they're listed as endangered. They're going through a tremendous crisis right now due to the legal and illegal ivory trade," Dr. Parrott said.

An incoming herd of exotic animals is prompting mixed feelings for neighboring residents.

"It's one thing for us to use water for agriculture. It's another thing to use water for elephants to bathe in," said Andrea Spahn, who lives near the proposed site.

"We're disappointed that they moved it to the other side, because I won't see elephants in my lifetime along our fence. We're excited about the project," added Tim Spoon, who owns a ranch nearby.

And environmental impact report is currently being finished, and it'll be up to the Board of Supervisors to grant final approval before this project can move forward.

"I hope all the Tehama County can realize and appreciate what an extraordinary opportunity this is, not only for the county, but what it can do for elephants and elephant awareness for the world in general," Dr. Parrott said.

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