SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — The Hogle Zoo elephants are now safely on their way to their new home after a six-hour loading process that included cranes and specialized crates, according to zoo officials.
The two elephants, Christie, 37, and Zuri, 14, have officially left the Hogle Zoo and are on their way to another accredited facility. The move was announced in May with officials saying the transfer is intended to increase the chances of Zuri reproducing.
The two elephants voluntarily walked into the specialized crates this morning, thanks to months of training, before they were “hoisted by a crane over the zoo and onto the truck,” the press release said. The zoo receiving them, which officials assured is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), will be announced once they arrive safely and acclimate to their new environment.
In order to make the transition as smooth as possible, Hogle Zoo employees and veterinarians are accompanying them on their journey. Two staff members who have cared for them for more than 14 years will stay at the new facility for three to six months to help the elephants adjust.
The elephants will be joining a multi-generational herd with a bull elephant, according to zoo officials.
“Although moving Christie and Zuri will no doubt be hard on the staff who care for them every day, and the greater Utah community who love and support them, this decision is what is best for the wellbeing of these two elephants and for the future of elephants at AZA-accredited facilities,” AZA CEO Dan Ashe previously said.
The Hogle Zoo has had elephants for over 100 years and started an Elephant Encounter program in 2005 to give guests a close-up view of elephants in an exhibit simulating their natural habitat. It is unknown at this time if elephants will return to the zoo in the future.