Updated Thursday, March 10, at 5:05 p.m.:
A representative from the Sedgwick County Zoo says their new elephants are "en route" from Swaziland to the U.S.
The 17 elephants are headed to three zoos in the U.S., including the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Neb., and the Dallas Zoo.
“The elephants are doing well, and we’ve just received word from the veterinarians with them on the flight that they are eating, drinking and some are sleeping,” Dennis Pate, executive director and CEO of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, said in a statement Thursday.
Six elephants are headed for the Sedgwick County Zoo and will eventually join Stephanie the elephant in the new “Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley” exhibit, which is scheduled to open to the public next May.
The Sedgwick County Zoo is in the process of relocating six elephants from Swaziland to the U.S.
A judge cleared the way for the importation late Tuesday when it denied a request by an animal rights group for a temporary restraining order.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had recently approved a permit for the Sedgwick County Zoo and its conservation partner zoos in Dallas and Omaha to bring 18 elephants out of Swaziland. The three zoos launched the elephant importation plan back in September when they learned that the elephants would be killed if they were not relocated.
Sedgwick County Zoo spokeswoman Melissa Graham says they moved quickly to relocate the elephants.
“Swaziland is in a state of national disaster due to severe, historic drought that has killed tens of thousands of animals. Food throughout the region is scarce,” she says.
The zoos have been paying for truckloads of hay to be brought in from South Africa to feed the elephants for the past several months.
Graham says further details will not be made public until the elephants are secure in their new homes.
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