The green weenie is here. The Denver Zoo has welcomed its first male elephant, a seven-year-old named Bodhi who hails from Ohio.
Thanks to a new exhibit called Asian Tropics, the zoo will soon have space for up to eight male elephants -- a serious undertaking for a very moist reason.
Turns out that the boys go through testosterone-fueled periods called musth in which they constantly dribble urine, which sometimes causes their nether parts to grow algae. Hence the green weenie.
Bodhi (pronounced Boh-dee) has already experienced musth at his previous home, Ohio's Columbus Zoo, says Denver Zoo spokeswoman Tiffany Barnhart. "They're happy to have a new home for him," Barnhart says diplomatically.
Apparently, green weenie isn't for everybody.That includes Bodhi's former roommates, female elephants Phoebe and Connie. In a statement, Columbus Zoo assistant curator Harry Peachey said that as Bodhi grew up, the ladies were having none of it. "Asian elephant social groups in the wild are predominantly matriarchal, kinship-based groups, meaning the members are mostly related females. Males don't play a permanent role in social groups like that. What that means for Asian elephants is that young males like Bodhi have to leave the group early on in life.
"From watching their behavior, it is pretty clear that, in a wild group, Phoebe and Connie would have asked Bodhi to leave long before now. Because of that behavior, Bodhi has not been a part of their social group for some time. Fortunately we were able to wait for an opportunity like this to come along before we moved him to another facility."
Bodhi has yet to meet the Denver Zoo's two female elephants, Mimi and Dolly. Making that happen is a complicated process. First, Bodhi must be quarantined for thirty days to make sure he doesn't have any sort of communicable elephantine diseases. He's currently spending his time in the luxurious elephant house at Asian Tropics, which has now been completed. Sometime in the next two months, the girls will be loaded into crates, which will be hoisted by crane onto the back of a truck and delivered to their new home. It's unclear whether they, too, will snub poor Bodhi, Mean Girls-style.
What is clear, according to spokeswoman Barnhart, is that Bodhi is "beautiful." And maybe a little bit cranky. Bodhi's former keepers in Columbus say the seven-year-old takes after his father, who has been described as "sometimes ornery."
No worries. Denver is up for the challenge. In fact, the more green weenie, the better.
Asian Tropics, which will also house rhinos, tapirs, leopards, flying foxes (a species of bat), fishing cats, otters and gibbons, is scheduled to open in spring 2012.
More from our News archives: "Denver Zoo welcomes Rinny the tapir, the first new inhabitant of the Asian Tropics exhibit."
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