Toledo Zoo transferring Louie the Elephant

Toledo Zoo transferring Louie the Elephant
(Source: WTOL)

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Louie the Elephant, who made headlines after attacking a zookeeper in 2010, will soon be leaving the Toledo Zoo.

The Toledo Zoo announced Wednesday Louie will be transferred to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska.

Louie, a 14-year-old African elephant, was born at the Toledo Zoo and has spent his entire life there.

In 2010, Louie critically injured zookeeper Don Redfox in an attack inside the elephant cage, Redfox has worked with Louie since the elephant's birth.

The Toledo Zoo says Louie's move is a part of Species Survival Plan. The Henry Doorly Zoo plans on breeding Louie in an effort to increase the African elephant population.

"A lot of regular visitors, a lot of people that have grown up with him, people that have had sons and daughters born the same year as him, and are going to miss him greatly," said Ben Whitebread, the Elephant Manager at the Toledo Zoo.

"You hate to see as a parent your kids leave, you hate to see a pet lost, as a zookeeper, as an animal manager, animals come and go, and if they're long lived, you get those strong attachments," said Terry Webb, Director of Animal Programming
at the Toledo Zoo.
Louie has five females waiting for him in Omaha.

"He's of reproductive age, going to produce some offspring, they'll be raised, add all of these new offspring to the population, it's a great opportunity for him to do what zoo's mean," Webb said.

Before Louie packs up his trunk though, he has to get used to his mode of travel. All three tons of Louie will travel in a 17,000 pound crate.

"We're going to let him tell us when he's ready, it's going to be a comfortable process, we'll work with him, we'll work with him," Webb said.

So although there is no timetable for Louie's departure, zoo leaders are optimistic about his future.

"We hope he ends up with a similar following as he had here, Omaha is a great zoo," Whitebread said.

Zoo officials say they do not know if Toledo will get another elephant or there is any chance of Louie or any of his offspring coming back.

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