Tulsa Zoo will soon welcome two new Asian elephants to new Elephant Preserve Barn

TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa Zoo announced on Thursday they will soon be welcoming two new Asian elephant herd members to the new Elephant Preserve Barn later this summer: Hank and Connie from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

“For 70 years the Tulsa Zoo has been dedicated to providing excellent care for Asian elephants at all stages of life,” said Tulsa Zoo Vice President of Animal Conservation and Science Joe Barkowski. “We’re proud to continue this legacy of excellence as we commit to caring for Asian elephants both in Tulsa and through supporting conservation programs around the globe.”

Tulsa Zoo said Hank is one of the largest male Asian elephants in professional care in North America. He is known for being laidback, patient and getting along well with other elephants.

Connie is introverted and gets along particularly well with male elephants, Tulsa Zoo said.

“Their move follows a recommendation from the Asian Elephant Species Survival Plan®, managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to help keep elephants in North American zoos genetically diverse,” Tulsa Zoo said in the announcement. “Male elephants commonly move between herds in their native ranges; zoos collaborate to replicate this natural behavior. The decision to move Hank is also part of a larger AZA effort to ensure elephants thrive in professional care and are around for future generations, supporting the overall survival of the species. Because Connie is so closely bonded with Hank, the elephant care teams at both zoos agree keeping them together is in their best interest.”

Both elephants will be quarantined in the new Elephant Preserve Barn before joining the existing herd, which includes male Sneezy and females Sooky and Booper.

“We’ve toured the new Elephant Preserve Barn at the Tulsa Zoo and are impressed at the attention to detail that went into designing the facility,” said Adam Felts, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s Senior Curator and Director of Animal Wellbeing. “We are confident their dedicated staff and commitment to providing excellent animal care make them the ideal location for Hank and Connie. We look forward to seeing the amazing work our team started being continued at the Tulsa Zoo.”

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