07/23/2013 05:06 EDT

Calgary Zoo Elephant, Spike, Moving To Florida


The Calgary Zoo is saying goodbye to one of their elephants.

Spike - also known by his birth name, Ganesh - will be moving to Busch Gardens in Tampa later this year, the zoo announced Tuesday.

“We know that the departure of our elephants will be a difficult day for many of our staff, keepers, volunteers and our community at large,” said Dr. Clement Lanthier, president and CEO of the Calgary Zoo, in a news release.

“Although we know Spike is going to receive excellent care at Busch Gardens, we will miss him when he’s the first to leave. He has been an important part of our zoo family for more than 20 years.”

Last year the Calgary Zoo announced it would relocate their four elephants after they decided the animals would be better off in a larger group and a more year-round facility.

The zoo has not yet said where female elephants Maharani, Swarna and Kamala will be relocated. The three elephants must stay together wherever they are relocated, says the zoo.

According to the Calgary Herald, Spike's first visit to Calgary was in 1992 on an extended loan from the Miami Zoo after a hurricane damaged a large part of the zoo.

He later become a permanent fixture as recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Asian Elephant Relocation Species Survival Plan.

Officials told Metro Calgary Busch Gardens was a natural fit for Spike because of their work in elephant conservation and well as the Calgary Zoo's close ties with Busch Gardens' vice president of zoological operations, Jeff Andrews.

“Jeff is one of the foremost experts on elephant care in North America and has worked with Spike before,” the Calgary Zoo’s director of animal care, Jake Veasey, told Metro.

“We have adopted his programs and methods in managing our elephants and we know Spike will be in good hands.”

According to the Busch Gardens website, the theme park currently has five Asian female elephants.

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