Skansen is Sweden´s national Zoo and was founded 1891, not actually as a zoo, but as worlds first free-air museum exhibiting old cottages and houses from all over Sweden. In order to attract visitors, animals was also included in the concept, not only scandinavian, but also tropical species.
The first elephant at Skansen was Topsy who came 1930 from Hagenbecks Tierpark, in Hamburg, together with a keeper, on loan during the summer. Topsy was a great success as ride-elephant and Skansen bought their first elephant Lunkentuss in 1931, adding Bambina in 1939.
Lunkentuss had to be shot 1941, and after Bambina was alone a couple of years, Fatima was bought in 1951, and Noi in 1967, after Bambina died. Fatima was sold to Ahlborg Zoo in Denmark, and Noi was sent to Copenhagen for cover in 1980, why Nika was single elephant from 1980 until 1984 when Shiva arrived from Circus Sariola in Finland.
Skansen was among the first Zoos in Europa to keep their elephants unchained in night, from 1989, they were only theathered for short training sessions, but walked free the whole night, thus making the stable of 86 m2 the largest night box for unchained elephants in Europe.
The elephant house at Skansen was 86 square meter but the Swedish Board of Agriculture demand 200 square meters stable, and 2000 m2 outside enclosure, why Skansen was supposed to build a new house and a larger outer enclosure.
In 1992 Skansen decided to close their elephant department and Nika and Shiva was send to England. Skansen gave their last elephants Nika and Shiva for free to Cricket St. Thomas wildlife Park in Somerset, UK, with the condition that Cricket payed and organized the transport.
21 year old Shiva died after three months, Nika after two years in Spain, where she was shipped after Cricket Zoo was prohibited to keep elephants.
Head elephant keepers:
1930-1975 Sven Borg
1976-1983 Ingvar Nylund
1983-1984 Tommy Lambrell
1984-1986 Bill Hemberg
1986-1992 Dan Koehl
Nika to the left, and Bambina to the right. Bambina was, with almost siz tons, probably among the largest asian female elephants in europe. At the gate is Skansens first elephant keeper, Sven Borg, who was responsible for the elephants 1930-1975. Photo: 1962 by Göran Schmidt
Elephant Lunkentuss arrived in 1931, dead 1941.
Dan Koehl and Shiva walking in the zoo 1989.
Except for winter months, the elephants were taken for walks around the zoo four to five times a day, the morning walk through the forest outside the zoo, finishing with a bath in the Djurgårdsbrunn channel.
The stable of 86 m2 was in 1991 the largest night box for unchained elephants in free contact in Europe.