ASHEBORO, N.C. — The North Carolina Zoo on Thursday announced an African bull elephant, Louie, is joining the zoo’s herd.
“Louie arrived May 25, and he is settling in well to his new habitat,” the zoo said in a news release.
Louie is an 18-year-old male African elephant, born April 30, 2003, at the Toledo Zoo in Ohio. On June 22, 2017, he went to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Nebraska as part of their breeding program. Louie’s move to the North Carolina Zoo is a recommendation from the African Elephant Species Survival Plan (SSP) through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
The gradual process of introducing Louie to the zoo’s herd is already underway, the zoo said in the release. The keepers are hopeful that Louie and one of the Zoo’s females will produce offspring.
“The elephant team is excited to have Louie join our herd. He has been great and is making the transition well. We are thankful to have an Omaha Zoo keeper with us to teach us all of his quirks and she has taught us so much already about this handsome guy,” said Nancy Kauffman, Animal Management supervisor.
The North Carolina Zoo currently has seven African elephants: males C’sar, Artie, and now Louie; and females Nekhanda, Rafiki, Tonga, and Batir. This multi-generational herd is managed with two separate habitats on the Watani Grassland, allowing the elephants to socially interact with each other much as they would in the wild.
Male elephants are fully grown by 25 years of age, so Louie is still expected to grow. He currently weighs 8,220 pounds and stands more than nine feet tall at the shoulder, according to the zoo. African elephants are well-known as the world’s largest land mammal.
“We are thrilled to welcome Louie to the North Carolina Zoo,” said Secretary Reid Wilson, N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “Louie’s arrival not only supports our overarching commitment to the preservation of endangered species, but it also provides a path to growing the elephant population at the Zoo. The North Carolina Zoo has a proud history of world-class elephant care and management, and we welcome Louie to our program and family.”
To learn more about the North Carolina Zoo and the elephant program, visit www.nczoo.org.