AERU was established in 2009 to address the lack of research on captive African elephants in South Africa. Captive facilities range from zoos and circuses to small private reserves, sanctuaries and elephant-back safaris. AERU is the first research unit dedicated to optimizing the welfare of these captive elephants in South Africa and beyond.
Much of our research is focused on the behaviour of the Knysna Elephant Park herd and what it can tell us about their lives and their welfare. We also collect biological, veterinary and dietary data at KEP and other facilities. Over several years, AERU has been developing a set of captive elephant data which is unrivalled, as far as we know, by any other such database anywhere else in the world.