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North Carolina Zoo

Zoo's elephant moved to sanctuary

ASHEBORO — In case you’re wondering, Artie’s not missing: He’s in Hohenwald, Tennessee.


The 40-year-old African male elephant, a staple at the North Carolina Zoo for 25 years, has been moved to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee for health reasons. He arrived at his new home on Jan. 31.


Here’s the story:


Artie (Aardvark) was born in the wilds of Zimbabwe and brought to the United States in 1986 with a group of young elephants that were orphaned due to culling carried out by the Zimbabwe government.


Artie arrived at NC Zoo when he was 15. Staff at the NC Zoo describe Artie as “the most talkative of the elephants at the zoo — he chortles often, especially for breakfast!”


Artie has lived at the zoo since 2007, he weighs 13,900 pounds and is 11 feet tall, and was a favorite among his keepers and zoo visitors.


At the NC Zoo, Artie was one of six African elephants, two males and four females.


But as the Zoo works in collaboration with other Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) facilities, the judgment was that at his age, he could receive even better late-life care in a place specializing in such.


“Meeting Artie’s needs at this stage of his life as an older bull was a priority,” Zoo CEO and Director Pat Simmons said. “The decision for Artie to move to The Elephant Sanctuary, given their large habitat spaces, excellent husbandry facilities, and multiple African elephant residents, provides Artie with the best opportunities for lifetime care and social well-being as he ages.”


North Carolina Zoo’s Animal Management Supervisor, Nancy Kauffman, and one of Artie’s long-time caregivers traveled with The Elephant Sanctuary’s Transport Team led by Margaret Whittaker, Creative Animal Behavior Solutions, during Artie’s transfer.


Upon his arrival and entry into his new barn at The Sanctuary’s Elephant Health Care Center, Artie was promptly greeted by The Sanctuary’s Vet Team and Care Staff with plenty of water, fresh-cut fruits, vegetables and hay.


The Elephant Health Care Center’s two-stall heated barn has 3.6 acres of habitat space, providing him with ample room to explore. Over the coming weeks, Artie's health and individual needs will be the focus as he becomes acquainted with his new environment.


The construction of a new barn and larger habitat is under way, which will provide Artie, The Sanctuary’s first permanent bull resident, with more social opportunities and an expanded natural landscape. The project is slated to be completed later this year.


“The Sanctuary has been working with our AZA colleagues at North Carolina Zoo to plan for Artie for many months,” says Janice Zeitlin, CEO of The Sanctuary. “Artie transitioned easily into the new Elephant Health Care Center barn and has spent the past few days exploring his new habitat, tossing mud, pushing trees, and meeting his Care Staff. 


“We applaud all those who have helped Artie with this next chapter of life, and The Elephant Sanctuary looks forward to posting updates as we learn more about the newest and largest Sanctuary herd mate!”