Denver Zoo: Meet Billy, the male elephant who will make his home here later this summer

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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.

Continue to see more photos and video of Billy.
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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar