Ludwig the elephant finds a new home

In May, Ludwig, the youngest and only male elephant at Hellabrunn Zoo, turns four years old. Old enough to venture out into the (not so) big wide world.

Copyright Tierpark Hellabrunn/Marc Müller

Copyright Tierpark Hellabrunn/Marc Müller

Copyright Tierpark Hellabrunn/Marc Müller

Copyright Tierpark Hellabrunn/Marc Müller

Those who have had an opportunity to visit Hellabrunn Zoo in the past four years will certainly have come to know and love the young Asian elephant, Ludwig. His cheeky charm, cute show stunts and the hilarious antics he pulls on the adult female elephants are a constant delight to children as well as adults.

Ludwig - also known by the nickname "Wiggerl" - turns four years old on 6 May. His birthday will mark the beginning of a new phase in his life. At the age of four, male elephants, both in the wild and in zoos, are driven away from the group in which they were reared. However, at this age they are still too young to be accepted by adult females as a breeding partner.

“Juvenile male elephants of Ludwig's age live in bachelor groups, where they learn the vital skills required to live in a group. Ludwig now needs playmates of his own age, with whom he can compete on equal terms," explains zoo director Rasem Baban. "He will therefore be moving to Heidelberg Zoo some time in May, where he will join the only juvenile bull group in Germany, and live in the most favourable conditions."

At present, the Elephant group at Hellabrunn Zoo comprises four adult elephant cows and the young Ludwig. He already weighs a full 1.6 tonnes. Ludwig has recently been testing tusks with increasing strength, much to the chagrin of the female elephants Mangala, Steffi and Panang. Even with mother Temi often has disputes with him.

"In just four years our cute baby elephant has grown into a sturdy juvenile bull. Although our Ludwig is not in a china shop, he is full of energy within the herd at Hellabrunn," says Christine Strobl, Mayor and Chairman of the zoo. "As much as I regret his parting and empathise with all his fans, the experts have stated he can no longer stay with us and must soon move on to play in another zoo. It's the best for "Ludwig the Great" and the other bulls of his age."

For his fourth birthday Ludwig, who was once voted the "Cutest Baby Animal in Bavaria" by television viewers, will definitely be in Munich, where he will celebrate the momentous day with his keepers and fans. 6 May: Mark the date in your calendar. More information to follow.

About the Elephants at Hellabrunn Zoo:
The Asian elephants learn various commands during their daily training at Hellabrunn Zoo, for example, to lie down or to raise a foot. These skills are helpful when performing medical procedures or foot care.