The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee Welcomes Artie, African male elephant, from North Carolina Zoo

February 8, 2023

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and North Carolina Zoo are pleased to announce that African elephant Artie arrived at The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee on Tuesday, January 31.

Artie (Aardvark), a 40-year-old African male, 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 North Carolina Zoo at the age of 15 years. North Carolina Zoo staff describes 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, weighs 13,900 pounds and is 11 feet tall, and is a favorite among his keepers and zoo visitors.

Home to six African elephants, two males and four females, North Carolina Zoo works in collaboration with other Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) facilities. “Meeting Artie’s needs at this stage of his life as an older bull was a priority. 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,” says Zoo CEO and Director Pat Simmons.

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 underway, 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!”

(Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Zoo and the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources)

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