Seventeen elephants who would have starved to death in Swaziland, Africa have been rescued and sent to three zoos. Five for Dallas, six for Sedgwick County zoo in Kansas and six for Omaha zoo. Unless it’s an extreme circumstance, which this was, it’s illegal to take animals out of the wild and put them into captivity. This has taken the three zoos 2 years to pull off and they’ve had fights and lawsuits with animal activist organizations because they wanted it to stay “natural”. (Translation: let them die…..no kidding.) All zoo employees and volunteers have been prepped and coached for the likely event of demonstrations or even riots. So far nothing, which is surprising. Our elephants arrived Friday night after a long and arduous journey then ate heartily and drank lots of water (horrible drought in Africa) and slept well. They are in quarantine for at least a month but the five are together. Our existing elephants were stomping their feet and trumpeting because they could smell or sense new elephants. The “introductions” of our four elephants with the five new ones will take months with lots of careful observation and consideration from their keepers. Animal personalities and hierarchies matter a LOT, and you can’t force anything.
At the volunteer meeting on Saturday, our CEO, who’d had five hours of sleep in the previous five days because of some “big grey things” spoke and presented a slide show. He said he was very nervous about the transport of these gigantic animals and wanted to stay in touch with staff accompanying the elephants on their journey. He was tripping over his words and getting choked up. He was so relieved that the elephants had successfully been transported and arrived safely at our zoo. Our CEO said one male ate all his food, drank all his water and was asleep before some of the females even had the nerve to leave the crates they had been in on the plane.
The photographs he shared on a slide show were unnerving. We have an elephant named Jenny and she is 10,000 pounds. That’s five tons, am I right? Imagine 17 elephants being loaded into (very comfortable and elephant friendly) crates, lifted with a crane and somehow moved into a 747 aircraft. Imagine being the pilot of that plane taking off with that kind of weight. Let’s be conservative here in this calculation. Let’s say each elephant weighed a mere 6,000 pounds….that would be 102,000 pounds! I can’t, for the life of me figure out how a plane takes off at all, much less with that kind of weight!
I’m thrilled to say the Dallas zoo now has 9 gorgeous African Elephants!