Powell, OH – Hank, a 23-year-old Asian elephant, arrived at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium early this morning and brought with him hope for a genetically diverse population of Asian elephants within zoos.
“Hank has previously sired a calf.” said Harry Peachey, Assistant Curator at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. “He was brought to the Columbus Zoo based on a Species Survival Plan recommendation to breed with our females, Connie and Phoebe.”
Hank was born at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in 1988 and also lived at the Bronx Zoo and in California at Have Trunk Will Travel. He came to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium from Riddle’s Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary in Arkansas.
According to standard procedure, Hank will be kept in quarantine before being introduced to the other Columbus Zoo elephants and Zoo visitors.
With the arrival of Hank, the Columbus Zoo elephant experts now care for four elephants. In the past ten years only 13 Asian elephants have been born successfully in nine AZA zoos in the U.S. including Beco and Bodhi at the Columbus Zoo.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s elephant facility has more indoor space than any other North America zoo. Although there is space for more than one bull elephant, seven-year-old Bodhi was moved to the Denver Zoo last month to better position him to one day sire a calf and contribute to the elephant population.
An endangered species, Asian elephants are represented by an estimated 38,000 to 51,000 individuals in range countries. Fragmented wild populations, agriculture, deforestation and conflict with humans pose a constant threat to wild Asian elephants.
“The elephants at the Zoo inspire people to care and take an active role in conservation” said Columbus Zoo and Aquarium CEO and President Dale Schmidt. “Their contributions enable the Columbus Zoo to be a leader in conservation. We provide $1 million of privately raised revenue each year to fund field projects and conservation organizations in more than 30 countries.”
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The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is home to more than 9,000 animals representing 675 species and provides more than $1 million annually to support over 70 conservation projects worldwide. A recreational and education destination that includes the 22-acre Zoombezi Bay water park and 18-hole Safari Golf Club, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium hosts more than two million visitors annually and was named the #1 Zoo in America by USA Travel Guide. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Columbus Zoo has earned Charity Navigator’s prestigious 4-star rating. For more information and to purchase advance Zoo admission tickets, visit www.columbuszoo.org.