US zoos defend flying in 17 elephants from Africa

Zoos have called the move a 'rescue mission'

US Zoos Defend Flying in 17 Elephants From Africa: 'a Rescue Mission'

Seventeen elephants flown out of southern Africa have been transferred to zoos in the United States.

Conservationists protested the transfer, but the zoos said the elephants from Swaziland were set to be killed to make room for rhinos.

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They described the relocation as a rescue mission for the elephants coming from drought-stricken Swaziland.

Before their departure, the giant animals, ranging from six to 25 years old, were sedated and loaded onto crates for the long flight.

The elephants landed in Fort Worth, Texas, over the weekend. Upon arrival, five were transferred to Dallas Zoo under police escort, while the remaining 12 went to the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita and the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska.

Conservationists have blasted the move, saying that moving the elephants from their natural surroundings to zoos will be detrimental for their health.

According to the Independent, Friends of Animals, a non- profit group that filed for an emergency injunction to prevent the transfer, said in a statement: "Today, the fight to prevent a lifetime of captivity for 18 elephants, 15 of whom are currently under 12 years of age, came to an abrupt and devious end."​

However, Gregg Hudson, president of Dallas Zoo, said the transfer had become essential after a long period of talks because the elephants were due to be culled as a drought had led to a food shortage in the national park.

According to CNN, he said: "It escalated to a rescue mission last fall due to this state-of-emergency drought."

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