Zoo Welcomes Young Bull Elephant to the Family

(Pittsburgh) (August  2011)—The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is trumpeting the news: A new male elephant has joined the family. After months of planning and preparation, five-year-old Umasai from the Dresden Zoo packed up his trunk and moved to Pittsburgh.

“It is very exciting news to have a young bull elephant here,” says Dr. Barbara Baker, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. “Umasai will play a major role in our efforts to improve the care and understanding of elephants worldwide, as well as introducing new genetics into the North American elephant population.”

During the next several weeks, Umasi will acclimate himself to his new home and his new elephant keepers.“Once Umasi goes through his quarantine, he will be in a stall near the girls so he can see them, touch trunks, and communicate with them,” says Willie Theison, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium Elephant Manager.  “Once he is settled in, we will slowly begin introductions to the girls. We will monitor the introductions and proceed according to their behavior and attitude toward the young bull, beginning with our oldest female elephant, Tasha. I think that Tasha will accept him right away and take on a motherly attitude. This will signal to the others that it is okay to welcome him.”

After Tasha, keepers will slowly introduce Savanna and Angeline by putting them with Tasha and Umasi  in the same area. Keepers will closely monitor the elephants’ behavior and if everyone seems comfortable keepers will introduce Victoria and Zuri the same way.  “Once they are all together, we will see how everyone reacts,” says Mr. Theison. “Group dynamics are important to a successful herd but I think the girls will be fine with Umasi. I think Angeline and Zuri are going to love having another playmate,” says Mr. Theison.

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is open year round. For directions, hours, tickets and group sales information, call 412 665-3640. Visit the Zoo’s website at www.pittsburghzoo.org. The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you and a better future for all living things. For more information visit www.aza.org