Louie the elephant recently made a 1,200-plus-mile trip from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium to his new home at the North Carolina Zoo.
The 18-year-old African bull elephant’s departure was announced Thursday and comes a few months after the Omaha zoo’s announcement that African elephant Claire is expected to give birth early next year.
Claire is pregnant by Callee, who came to Omaha about two years ago from the Birmingham Zoo in Alabama in hopes that he would breed with the Omaha zoo’s five female elephants.
Louie arrived in Omaha from the Toledo Zoo in Ohio in 2017. At the time of his departure to Omaha, Louie was regarded by staff at both zoos as a model elephant, despite a 2010 incident that injured his keeper. The keeper, since retired, violated protocol by entering the enclosure alone, and suffered punctured lungs and fractured ribs after he appeared to startle the elephant.
Zoo officials said Thursday that Louie was never involved in an aggressive incident while at the Omaha zoo and that his move to North Carolina was based on a recommendation by the African Elephant Species Survival Plan through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Louie arrived at his new home May 25 and is settling well into his new habitat, according to a press release from the North Carolina Zoo.
Nancy Kauffman, the zoo’s animal management supervisor, said the elephant team is excited to welcome Louie to their herd.
“He has been great and is making the transition well. We are thankful to have an Omaha keeper with us to teach us all of his quirks and she has taught us so much already about this handsome guy,” Kauffman said.