In 1992 three young female African elephants were left orphaned and slated to be culled in Kruger National Park, South Africa. A local family dedicated to conservation moved the elephants to Botswana where they had developed an elephant orphanage on their family farm. Once the elephants reached sexual maturity, they were moved to a nearby camp to be near wild male elephants where an unfortunate accident occurred with a handler.
Wildlife laws in Botswana required that any animals involved in a fatal accident must be destroyed. In desperation to save these elephants, the family reached out to the Botswana Wildlife Authorities for a solution – the compromise resulted in all three elephants needing to be exported out of the country. A plea was sent out to the AZA Elephant SSP for help, and the Pittsburgh Zoo answered the call; the elephants were to be moved to the Zoo’s International Conservation Center.
International Animal Exchange coordinated the airport and aircraft transportation in regulation with the Botswanan and United States government. In six short months of crucial planning, the three females were transported from Botswana to Johannesburg, loaded onto a 747 cargo plane, flew to Pittsburgh in a 20-hour flight, and arrived safely and healthy in their new 724 acre home.
Taken from article written by Barbara Baker