ASHEBORO — An African bull elephant named Louie is joining the herd at the North Carolina Zoo.
Louie arrived May 25 and is settling into his new habitat well, according to a news release from the zoo.
The 18-year-old male African elephant was born April 30, 2003, at the Toledo (Ohio) Zoo.
In June 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 was recommended by the African Elephant Species Survival Plan through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, according to the release.
Louie is gradually being introduced to the zoo’s herd. The keepers hope that Louie and one of the zoo’s females will produce offspring.
Male elephants are fully grown by age 25, so Louie is still expected to grow. He weighs 8,220 pounds and stands more than 9 feet tall at the shoulder. African elephants are known as the world’s largest land mammal.
“He has been great and is making the transition well," Nancy Kauffman, animal management supervisor, said in the release. "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.”
The North Carolina Zoo has seven African elephants: males C’sar, Artie, and now Louie; and females Nekhanda, Rafiki, Tonga, and Batir.
The 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, the zoo said in the release.
Wild elephants face significant threats to survival, such as poaching for their ivory tusks and habitat loss. Their populations have declined so much that they could go extinct in the wild within the next generation if current trends hold, according to the release.
It is estimated there are between 470,000 and 690,000 wild African elephants throughout 37 countries.