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Cincinnati Zoo bids (temporary) farewell to 'Sabu' the elephant

elephant prances in front of a rock and waterfall
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Sabu is making a temporary move to Columbus.

A 10,000-pound bull elephant named "Sabu" has been transferred from the Cincinnati Zoo to the Columbus Zoo. The 34-year-old Asian elephant will be introduced to three breeding-age females.

“Sabu is one of the most genetically valuable males in the North American population of Asian elephants and has no living offspring,” says Christina Gorsuch, director of animal care at the Cincinnati Zoo, in a statement. “This move will triple his chances to contribute to the survival of this endangered species.”

The move was arranged by the Species Survival Plan in the hopes of helping perpetuate North America's captive population.

The Columbus Zoosays on Facebook that Sabu will be "introduced to females Sunny, Rudy and Phoebe after the standard quarantine period."

While there, he "along with the rest of our elephant herd, will have access to three outdoor habitats, an expansive indoor community room, and seven other rooms to accommodate a large herd of elephants," the post concludes.

The zoos say the move is just temporary. Sabu is slated to return to Cincinnati in 2024 in time for the opening of the new Elephant Trek habitat.

"Collaboration between zoos is essential in order to ensure the long-term success of elephants in a managed population,” said Gorsuch. “We support each other’s programs for husbandry, training, medical emergencies and just general keeper education and professional development.”

Sabu has previously sired two calves — one in Cincinnati and one at the Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Mo. — however, both died from a virus called Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus, or EEHV. The Cincinnati Zoo says the virus remains a major threat to elephants in North America.

New little blue penguins, too

penguins in a box for the move with a sign saying "these little blues are off to the Cincinnati Zoo!"
Birch Aquarium
Two little blue penguins in their travel container as they embark on their cross-country move.

The Cincinnati Zoo may have (temporarily) lost an elephant, but it recently gained five little blue penguins. Birch Aquarium in San Diego says the penguins recently embarked on a 2,000-mile journey to their new home in Roo Valley.

The aquarium says in a statement the move was recommended by the Species Survival Plan.

The penguins — named Sheldon, Squid, Craig, Odette and Bo — are joining Cincinnati's breeding colonies. According to a release, the "Cincinnati Zoo is home to the largest and most successful breeding colonies of little blue penguins in North America."

"The zoo started with six little blues in 1999 and has hatched over 100 chicks since then. The current habitat is home to 34," says the aquarium.

Birds at the Cincinnati Zoo are currently housed indoors because of the threat ofa highly contagious and deadly strain of avian flu. The aquarium says all the penguins were examined to ensure they were healthy before making the move. That includes physical exams, X-rays, blood samples and a variety of other tests.

Cody Sowers, team leader in the Bird Department, says the Cincinnati Zoo is excited about the new arrivals.

“Anytime we can collaborate with other facilities to help out the North American population is a no-brainer, and personally I am excited to watch them acclimate to their new home here in Cincinnati."

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.