Birmingham Zoo’s 18 year old male African elephant Callee, will be moving into a breeding herd at another facility accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The Birmingham Zoo joins the AZA and other zoos around the world in maintaining Species Survival Plan ® (SSP) programs, cooperative breeding and conservation initiatives.
In the past 8 years, Callee has learned a tremendous amount from Bulwagi, the Birmingham Zoo’s 38 year old male African elephant. Staff feels that Callee is finally ready to move and start a family of his own. Moving Callee now at the age of 18 is “a natural step in his maturation, as bulls typically move out of their matriarchal herds and into bachelor groups between the ages of 7-10,” says Birmingham Zoo’s Vice President of Living Collections, Dr. Stephanie Braccini Slade. “In the wild, male African elephants spend time around larger, stronger, and more experienced bulls before venturing into breeding herds. Callee will be paired with multiple genetically valuable female elephants with an SSP recommendation to aid in the expansion of the population,” says Dr. Slade.
Callee’s move will leave older male Bulwagi as the only elephant at the Birmingham Zoo, but only for a short period of time. The Birmingham Zoo will be acquiring two additional young males, shortly after Callee has been moved. This time with Bulwagi “will allow all of the Zoo’s Animal Care Professionals in the elephant department to focus on necessary preparations related to his tusk removal,” says Dr. Slade “And a little extra time to spoil him!” Later this year Birmingham Zoo staff and experts from the Colyer Institute will again perform a procedure to remove Bulwagi’s broken tusk. This was first attempted in 2016 in order to manage an ongoing infection, but was unsuccessful. The procedure did, however, allow veterinary staff to gain better access to the infection in order to treat it.
The Birmingham Zoo would like to invite the community to visit Callee in Trails of Africa before he leaves the Zoo for his new home. “While Callee will of course be missed by all Birmingham Zoo staff, volunteers, and guests alike, we look forward to seeing him grow and have the chance to build a family of his own,” said Birmingham Zoo President & CEO, Chris Pfefferkorn.