Tembo the African elephant was already a big star when she came to the Zoo, and she had even more talents up her sleeve—or trunk!
  • 1980s
  • present

For more than 30 years, Tembo has been charming Zoo visitors. She is a big girl with a big voice that she is not afraid to share! Her outgoing personality is most likely due, at least in part, to her status as a bona fide celebrity. In 1974, Tembo appeared in the Born Free TV series, and when that production wrapped, she spent the next several years working in Hollywood.

Alas, Tembo reportedly moonlighted as an escape artist and her trainer’s neighbors in Thousand Oaks, California, didn’t take kindly to her munching on their gardens. So Tembo bid farewell to Tinseltown and moved to the San Diego Zoo, where she spends her time with her pachyderm pals. Tembo has found another creative outlet for her talents, as well: she is an accomplished artist, working in acrylic paints to create canvas masterpieces that are sometimes auctioned off to help support our conservation work.

Images of San Diego Zoo Centennial commemorative pins. ShopZoo: Your one-stop shop for Centennial commemoratives, gear, and more!