Gifted elephant will join Auckland Zoo

NEW COMPANION: Elephants Burma and Anjalee at Auckland Zoo .PHOTO/SUPPLIED
NEW COMPANION: Elephants Burma and Anjalee at Auckland Zoo .PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Auckland Zoo has confirmed the baby elephant gifted to New Zealand in Sri Lanka this week will be joining its elephants Burma and Anjalee.

The zoo said it was delighted to welcome a second elephant from Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka.

Five-year-old Nandi will be the final elephant to come from the orphanage and will increase Auckland Zoo's growing elephant family to three.

"This represents the next step in a long-standing and carefully planned programme of co-operation between Auckland Zoo and Sri Lankan authorities, and which initially saw Anjalee arrive at the zoo last year," a spokeswoman for Auckland Zoo said.

She said Pinnawala identified captive-born Nandi - "who is the right age and maturity to be rehomed" - as the ideal candidate.

"Auckland Zoo experts have also assessed Nandi, and consider her to be of the right temperament to be a great companion for Anjalee and Burma."

But the spokeswoman said there is still a long road ahead before the new baby elephant can arrive in New Zealand.

"It is exciting for us - but there is still a lot more to do before it is 100 per cent confirmed Nandi will be flying our way."

Like Anjalee, she will have to go through routine testing over the next few months before being able to settle into her new home.

Sri Lanka's president Maithripala Sirisena presented a deed of ownership for Nandi during a red-carpet welcome yesterday in Colombo for Prime Minister John Key, who arrived for a two-day official visit.

But the gift sparked anger from animal rights activists who said it was cruel to separate the young elephant from her family.

The Auckland Zoo spokeswoman said the Sri Lankan elephant orphanage was currently home to 93 elephants, all of which are unable to be released into the wild.

She said Pinnawala, which was originally built to house 30 elephants, regularly rehomes elephants of Nandi's age to other facilities.

- NZME.

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