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Irish elephant leaves Antwerp for Denver

11:51 07/06/2013

An Irish elephant currently residing in Belgium is to arrive at  Denver zoo in the next few weeks — the first Asian elephant imported to the U.S. in more than 30 years, writes the Denver Post’s Electa Draper. Five-year-old Billy, hails from Dublin, Ireland, but is currently training at Antwerp zoo. "We've heard he's a very charismatic boy. Our guests will love him," said Denver zoo's vice president for animal care, Brian Aucone. Billy, without any U.S. relations, will bring new blood and genes to the zoo as it continues its quest to become a leading house of bulls and a global key player in Asian elephant breeding and conservation. He will have a transition period in Denver, and it likely will be late summer or early fall when Billy gets to meet his new public, zoo spokeswoman Tiffany Barnhart said.

Billy's journey from Amsterdam will be a 14-hour flight; the veterinary team will have access to him throughout what they hope will be an uneventful flight. Billy was born in Dublin and moved to Antwerp in July 2012. "He handled that trip very well," Aucone said. "We're confident he'll handle this transition well, too."

As Billy grew he wore out his welcome with his family unit and moved to Antwerp Zoo, where he's called Budi. He will get the new name of Billy in honour of a zoo benefactor, the late William Chenoweth, a former Colorado legislator, ad man and artist who died in 2008. "Billy's very, very smart. He's very active. He's going to be fun to watch," McCloskey said. "We're very excited about him." 

Written by The Bulletin