Friday, January 20, 2012

From John Goodall

untitled by bucklesw1
untitled, a photo by bucklesw1 on Flickr.

January 13, 2012

“My goodness, he’s big.” - “He’s a large fellow.” - “His legs are like tree trunks.”

After Columbus Zoo and Aquarium employees flocked to the elephant house yesterday to see its newest resident, all came away with the same conclusion: Hank is hefty. “He may be the biggest elephant in a North American zoo,” said Harry Peachey, the Columbus Zoo’s assistant curator.

Yesterday was the first day most zoo employees got a glimpse of Hank, who has been in quarantine on zoo grounds for a month. Today, the public gets its chance. Hank will be on display in the elephant house from 10 a.m. until noon.

At 15,600 pounds, the 23-year-old Asian elephant is more than twice the size of Phoebe, one of two female elephants at the zoo. (Hank’s 24th birthday is Monday, and the zoo will celebrate by giving the elephant a treat at 11 a.m., when he also will be on display.)

Connie, the other female, weighs about 9,000 pounds. Coco, the zoo’s breeding male until his unexpected death last year, is between 10,000 and 12,000 pounds.

The hope is that Hank will mate and produce offspring to add to the herd, which includes 2-year-old Beco. Peachey said he hopes that mating will occur naturally, but artificial insemination is a possibility if necessary.

In the meantime, Hank is being introduced gradually to the other elephants. First, he spent time in an area where they could smell and hear one another. This week, all the elephants stood near an opening in a door so they could touch one another with their trunks. Next, they’ll be up close and personal in the same enclosure. Peachey said he doesn’t expect problems.

Before coming to Columbus, Hank lived for 16 years at Riddle’s Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary in Greenbrier, Ark. He was born at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and spent time at the Bronx Zoo and Have Trunk Will Travel, a California elephant-rental company.

Hank has sired one offspring, a calf that did not survive.

“He’s so laid back,” Peachey said. “It’s phenomenal how relaxed he is; it’s indicative of his confidence level.”

Peachey said that when elephants are placed in a strange enclosure, nine out of 10 stay in one place, sniffing and observing. Hank, however, investigated every corner of the elephant enclosure yesterday as soon as he arrived.

He twirled hay in his trunk, waded into the elephant pool, scratched his back on a fake tree and ambled along the front of the enclosure, unfazed by the stares of zookeepers and others.

“We’ve lucked out,” Peachey said, a grin spreading across his face.


Larry allen Dean said...

yes, he certainly is big !
but, poor Mr. Peachey is under the assumption that his size and attitude are merely a matter of luck ! Totally discounting what the proper care and handling has done for this animal. I say the kudos go to the management system of Scott and Heidi Riddle. When an animal is surly and ill tempered people are much more willing to credit its care & handling.
let us please give credit where credit is due !

DanKoehl said...

I agree, credit to Scott and Heidi, for taking good care of this elephant! He looks magnificent.

Little John said...

‘Oh boy, finally I get a good scratch that sweet spot. If they think I’m going to knock down this petrified tree by myself for a measly bag of peanuts they got another thing coming. Speaking of by myself – where is all the action they told me about?’.