Birmingham Zoo has new additions to its Zoo family, two young male African elephants. Ages 9 and 10, both bulls come from San Diego Zoo Safari Park, also accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Birmingham Zoo joins the AZA and other zoos around the world in maintaining Species Survival Plan programs for cooperative breeding and conservation initiatives.
The oldest but smallest male, Ingadze, nicknamed Gadze, was born at the Safari Park on March 13, 2009 and is reported to be easygoing but likes to play-spar with the other males. Lutsandvo, also referred to as Luti, is the youngest and largest of the two males, but was the most dominant of the juveniles. Luti was born on Feb. 14, 2010 at the Safari Park and is half-brother to Gadze. Both males share the same father, male African elephant Mabhulane, also called Mabu, but have different mothers. Luti’s mother is Ndluamitsi and Gadze’s mother is Umngani.
Both boys are doing great, and are settling into their new home just fine. For now, Luti and Gadze will be living in their behind-the-scenes area while they acclimate to the conditions and environment of Birmingham Zoo. The Zoo’s older resident male African elephant, Bulwagi, will be a great leader for the all-male herd, as staff anticipates him teaching Luti and Gadze a tremendous amount about being a strong-growing bull elephant.
“Luti and Gagze are at the perfect age to replicate the important life stage of bachelorhood. It’s naturally time for them to leave their maternal group and join a bachelor herd, watching and learning from a larger and older bull,” said Dr. Stephanie Braccini Slade, vice president of living collections at Birmingham Zoo.
“Our Zoo has done a fantastic job maintaining an all-male African elephant herd—the only one in the country,” said Chris Pfefferkorn, Birmingham Zoo president and CEO. “Based on a recommendation from the African Elephant Species Survival Plan, the Birmingham Zoo has now become the new home for Luti and Gadze. We are truly excited to have both boys join our Zoo family, and even happier that now Bulwagi has double the company! Our vision to conserve wildlife and wild places is what fuels our dedication to preserving endangered and vulnerable species. We take pride in being a part of the global elephant conservation effort by AZA accredited zoos to ensure these magnificent animals will survive into the future.”
Guests will be able to see both males on habitat sometime in early July, once both elephants have appropriately acclimated and are ready to explore more of their spacious habitat.
“Although we will miss these two teenagers, we know it is time for them to move away from their maternal herd and join a bachelor group — much as they would in their native habitat,” said Steve Metzler, Henshaw curator of mammals, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “Since these young boys have left, we have noticed that the rest of the herd has settled into a peaceful routine focused more on the younger calves in their care.”