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Two long-time Columbus zoo residents are saying goodbye, but there’s still time to wish them farewell

Two long-time Columbus zoo residents are saying goodbye, but there’s still time to wish them farewell


Stomping into her golden years, the Columbus Zoo celebrated the 50th birthday of one of their longest live-in elephants, Connie. While a huge milestone, the festivities became bittersweet when followed by news of her departure.

Connie, having been at the zoo for over 30 years, and her partner Hank, at the zoo for 13 years, will both be relocating to an accredited zoo by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Their summer move stems from a species survival plan whose focus aims to keep elephants in North American Zoos genetically diverse. 

Hank was originally the sole elephant recommended for relocation, however when zoo officials took notice of how strong a bond between him and Connie, it was decided the two would embark on the journey together. 

“While it will be difficult for us and our Zoo community who has grown to love them over the years to say goodbye, for Connie and Hank, what matters most is the dynamics between these two elephants,” said Adam Felts, Senior Curator of Animal Care and Director of Animal Wellbeing. 


The two Asian elephants have been close partners since Hank arrived at the Zoo in 2011 – 19 years after Connie. In her more mature years, zoo officials say Connie has grown to prefer the company of her older peers as opposed to the younger members of the herd – and with Hank being known as a “gentle giant”, Connie found herself drawn to his presence.  

“With his calm demeanor but imposing stature as one of the largest elephants in North America, Hank brings commanding leadership to a herd,” said Felts. “Other elephants follow his lead, and Connie is comforted by his guidance.”

The Columbus Zoo’s love for Asian elephants has remained a crucial part of their core-values throughout the years. Recently, the Zoo established a Center for Species Survival for Asian Elephants – alongside two other notable organizations in the field – to focus on the preservation and protection of the endangered group. 

Despite bidding farewell to the infamous elephant duo, the Zoo will be welcoming new friends – including Raja, a breeding bull from Saint Louis. 

So, whether you visit sooner or later, Columbus Zoo’s ever-changing nature promises an experience that is exciting and unique for all ages.

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