The Sedgwick County Zoo is partnering with zoos in Dallas and Omaha in an effort to save 18 elephants from death in Africa.
If the plan works, six of the elephants will be relocated to the Sedgwick County Zoo by the end of the year.
The three zoos want to provide new homes for 18 African elephants from two government parks in Swaziland. The country is in a severe drought and faces an overpopulation of elephants. The animals are also taking a toll on landscape needed for endangered rhinos.
The Sedgwick County Zoo’s Executive Director Mark Reed says they hope to add one male and five females to the zoo’s new elephant exhibit.
"This is a win-win for Swaziland, a win for the rhinos over there and a win obviously for these elephants coming to the three zoos," he says. "So we are very excited and look forward to baby elephants here."
Reed says the elephants are currently in protected holding areas and the three zoos are paying for food to be brought in from South Africa. The partnering zoos are working through the permit process and they expect to relocate the elephants by the end of November or early December.
African authorities have said if the elephants are not exported, they will be killed. The Sedgwick County Zoo’s new “Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley” exhibit will open to the public next May.
The exhibit’s holding area and barn are nearly finished. Reed says they plan to move the zoo’s only elephant, Stephanie, to the new area in mid-October. Once Stephanie moves, that elephant area will be expanded into additional space for the zoo's rhinos.
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