Jul 26

Big Louie From Toledo

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium’s newest elephant has arrived, and he’s already a huge hit with the lady elephants.

Louie, a 14-year-old male who was born and raised at the Toledo Zoo, came to Omaha at the end of June to breed with some of our female elephants and acclimated to his new environment almost immediately.

“Louie’s main keeper, Ben, came with him from Toledo and stayed for a week to ease the transition,” says Dan Cassidy, the zoo’s general curator. “Based on Ben's and our own observations, we actually moved up the introductions by a few days. Now, they all act like they’ve been with each other their whole lives.”

Now that Louie’s a member of the zoo family, Cassidy says the breeding process could happen soon. “Two of our females are expected to go into heat any day now, so we can expect to see some behaviors from him,” Cassidy says. Though Louie’s never bred before, Cassidy and his keepers don’t anticipate any problems, noting that the females, like Jayei who is an experienced breeder, can give him a little Mrs. Robinson nudge. “We have five females, we'd love to get at least one calf from each of them, maybe more.”

Warren, the male elephant who came with the original herd last summer, may be an eligible suitor for some of the girls as well. “Since they all came from relatively the same area in Swaziland, we’ll have to do a blood test to make sure he’s not related to the elephant in heat. Kind of like elephant Ancestry.com,” says Cassidy.

In the meantime, Louie’s basking in his new-kid-on-the-block attention – not only from the female elephants, but from humans, too. “A lot of people have been following him,” says Cassidy. “The first day he was on display, people were saying, “’There’s Louie!’ He’s easily recognized because he has the longest tusks and the longest legs.”

If you want to wear your Louie love on your sleeve, you can purchase a Louie t-shirt, for a limited time only, between now and July 31, here.

The shirt is charcoal gray, extremely soft and available in Youth and Adult sizes. Net proceeds go to the Omaha Zoo Foundation.