Asheboro, N.C. — The North Carolina Zoo has added another elephant to its herd. Louie, an 18-year-old African bull elephant, arrived on May 25. And he’s settling in just fine in his new habitat, the zoo reports.
Louie was born at the Toledo Zoo in Ohio in April 2003 and then moved on to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in June 2017 as part of its breeding program, according to a press release.
Louie’s move to the North Carolina Zoo is a recommendation from the African Elephant Species Survival Plan through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the release says. The keepers are gradually introducing Louie to the zoo’s herd and 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 zookeeper with us to teach us all of his quirks and she has taught us so much already about this handsome guy,” said Nancy Kauffman, the zoo’s animal management supervisor.
The zoo now has seven African elephants — males C’sar, Artie, and now Louie, and females Nekhanda, Rafiki, Tonga, and Batir, the zoo says. The herd lives in two separate habitats on the Watani Grassland, allowing the elephants to socially interact with each other much as they would in the wild, according to the zoo.
Though Louie is already 18 years old, he still has a few years left to grow. Male elephants are usually fully grown by age 25. He currently weighs 8,220 pounds and stands more than nine feet at the shoulder, the zoo reports. 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 of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, in a press release. “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.”
Wild elephants face a variety of threats, including poaching and habitat loss. The zoo shared some important facts about them:
- Populations of wild elephants have declined so much that they could go extinct in the wild within the next generation if current trends hold.
- It is estimated there are currently between 470,000 and 690,000 wild African elephants throughout 37 countries.
- The future of wild elephants depends on securing their habitat, reducing conflict with people, and preventing killing by poachers.
Since 1998, the North Carolina Zoo has participated in elephant conservation in West Africa., according to the zoo. One of the primary tools the Zoo uses to protect the region’s elephants is satellite tracking collars.