Look out, lady elephants of North America!
A new hunk is headed your way.
Billy the elephant is scheduled to arrive at the Denver Zoo later this summer. The five-year-old will come from the Antwerpen Zoo in Belgium, where he was called Budi. But Denver already has an elephant named Bodhi -- and though spokesman Sean Andersen-Vie assures us the names are pronounced differently, the zoo has decided to rename their new arrival in memory of zoo supporter William Chenoweth.
Billy, an Asian elephant, will join the zoo's four other Asian elephants -- males Bodhi and Groucho, and females Dolly and Kimbo -- in the new $50 million Toyota Elephant Passage exhibit. As explained in our cover story, "Trunk Show," the exhibit is capable of housing twelve elephants, up to eight of which could be male; that's unique among North American zoos. The Denver Zoo decided to build a habitat for bull elephants to support an Association of Zoos and Aquariums species-survival plan that calls for more zoo breeding of the endangered species.
Billy was donated to the Denver Zoo, Andersen-Vie says. He's genetically valuable because he is unrelated to any elephant in the U.S. Fresh genes! And Andersen-Vie says it's possible that Billy will get to put those genes to the test, either by traveling to another zoo to mate with a female elephant (Dolly and Kimbo are post-reproductive), hosting a female elephant in Denver or, most likely but least fun, by artificial insemination.
The zoo isn't announcing exactly when Billy will arrive. But the plan is for one zookeeper, one assistant curator, the area curator, two veterinarians, the vice president for animal care and one communications staff member to fly to Belgium to fetch him. Billy will travel to Amsterdam via truck and then board a plane with two vets and two elephant keepers for his flight to Denver. The staff will share photos and video of Billy on the zoo's Facebook page before his arrival and then announce when he's finally here.
In the meantime, check out these photos and video of Billy in Belgium.
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More from our News archive: "Denver Zoo welcomes Kimbo the elephant, a new companion for grande dame Dolly."Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org