Only a Jumbo Jet Would Do

In 2002, a herd of African elephants in Swaziland found themselves constrained by agriculture and human habitation, and they were eating themselves out of house and home, as well as destroying the habitat for the other species living there. The Kingdom of Swaziland was looking at either having to cull the herd, or find somewhere else they could go. With the help and support of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Zoological Society of San Diego and the Lowry Park Zoo joined forces to bring the entire nine-elephant herd to the United States; seven of the elephants came to live at the Safari Park. The move was highly controversial and contested, resulting in conflict and criticism from opposition groups. However, with elephants disappearing in the wild as the result of rampant poaching, the Zoological Society wanted to help this herd survive, to be part of the assurance population. Flying almost-adult elephants from Africa to the U.S. took extensive planning—and a cargo plane big enough to handle the huge shipping crates, each containing an elephant, for the long flight over, accompanied by keepers to check on the animals and give them food and water.

2003

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