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Elephant at the Denver Zoo moving to Houston

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Posted at 12:30 PM, Apr 17, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-17 14:30:20-04

DENVER — The Denver Zoo said one of its elephants is moving to Texas.

Chuck, an Asian elephant, will go to the Houston Zoo to start his own family, according to a news release from the Denver Zoo.

This is part of the Asian Elephant Species Survival Plan to maintain healthy genetic diversity of the animals in human care through breeding programs, according to the Denver Zoo.

"Chuck's departure marks a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to ensure the survival of Asian elephants, a species facing numerous threats in the wild—including habitat loss, poaching, and human-wildlife conflict," the Denver Zoo said in its news release.

He is the first to leave Denver since the Toyota elephant enclosure at the Denver Zoo opened in 2012.

Chuck has been in the Toyota Elephant Passage since 2018 when he and his half-brother Jake moved to Colorado from Ontario, Canada, the Denver Zoo said.

The enclosure aims to simulate nature, according to the Denver Zoo, where young male elephants generally leave their herds when they enter maturity and seek out older, adult male elephants to teach them how to navigate the world.

Asian elephants like Chuck sexually mature between 10 and 13 years old, which is why at 15 years old, he's now moving to Texas to breed.

Before he leaves, animal care specialists at the Denver Zoo will prepare Chuck for the transition.

"Through operant conditioning with a focus on positive reinforcement, our dedicated elephant care team works closely with Chuck to teach him the behaviors necessary for his journey and future reproductive success. These include crate training, which allows Chuck to feel comfortable and secure during transportation, as well as a wide variety of husbandry behaviors that enable veterinary care and health monitoring—including radiographs of his feet and tusks and blood draws. The elephant team has also prepared him by teaching him a lot of the cues and routines of the program he is moving to, ensuring his transition to Texas is as stress free and smooth as possible," the Denver Zoo said in its news release.

Denver 7+ Colorado News Latest Headlines | April 17, 11am

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