DC, Meet Spike! He Traveled 900 Miles to His New Home at the National Zoo

Spike Elephant
Smithsonian National Zoo

Thirty-six years old, 13,000 pounds and a Miami native.

The National Zoo's newest resident is an Asian elephant named Spike who loves traveling and eating honeydew melons, bananas and apples.

Why does this read like a dating profile? Because Spike has traveled to D.C. to mate.

The zoo says it will breed Spike and Maharani, a 27-year-old female elephant at the zoo.

Other elephants at the National Zoo include Ambika, Shanthi, Kamala, Swarna and Bozie. They are all females.

"Spike lived with Kamala, Swarna and Maharani at the Calgary Zoo, so we anticipate that a reunion will elicit lots of excitement and energy among the quartet," said Tony Barthel, curator of Elephant Trails. "We will be watching Spike and Maharani’s relationship closely, and we hope they show interest in one another once again."

Spike came from Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in Tampa, Florida, and is on loan from Zoo Miami. He traveled from the Sunshine State in a 12 foot tall travel crate for 900 miles, with plenty of food and water breaks on the way, the zoo said. The trip took nearly 24 hours.

Barthel said the zoo has had success in the past using natural breeding and artificial insemination to grow its "herd," but it will be the first time the zoo has had the opportunity to study and manage natural breeding since it renovated its elephant facility in 2013.

Maharani bred with Spike and conceived while at the Calgary Zoo. She gave birth to two live young in 2004 and 2007, but neither of the calves survived. In 2012, she delivered a premature stillborn calf, the zoo said. Spike returned to Florida in Sept. 2013 when he was transferred to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

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