Planning to bring 18 elephants from Swaziland to three zoos in the United States has been underway since the permit process began.
In previous interviews with KMTV, Dennis Pate, the director and CEO at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, which will be the future home for six of the elephants, previewed some of what will happen to transport the elephants.
Jan. 2016 update after permit is approved:
Getting the elephants to the US (2:42 mark):
“It’s a long way. It’s been done before many times. We are going to do it in the most expedient that way we can to minimize the discomfort the elephants may feel. So that started last July when we transferred them into the boma to get them used to being around people, to get them used to being in one acre paddocks and closer confinement, to get them used to diets. And so we will be flying them here on a 747 plane that’s a freighter. The maximum it can take is up to 18 animals.”
Timeline (10:48 mark):
"There’s a lot of logistics associated, as you might guess, with bringing the elephants here. So it’s 747s, it’s specialized trains, trucks, loaders – all of that sort of thing. So we imagine, right now, that it’s going to take three to four weeks from the time we get the green light to pull all of that together. Obviously, we have been working on it, but it’s not easy. Swaziland does not have a lot of this sort of equipment. So we have to bring it in from South Africa."
Sept. 2015 - Pate reveals joint effort and application for permit:
The process (12:42 mark):
“So there are crates being built for them, custom crates being built for them, smaller ones for the littler elephants, bigger ones, taller, a little wider. We are still working out the logistics of all of this because it is quite complicated. So the likelihood is that they’ll fly on a 747 special charter, a freighter. They will leave Swaziland, they will fly, refuel somewhere along the way. They’ll drop six elephants in Dallas, six in Wichita and end their journey here in Omaha. There’s a lot more to it than that, but generally that’s how it will all work out. Again, the logistics haven’t been worked out.”
After they land in Omaha (13:38 mark):
“When they land here, they’ll off-load them onto the ground, and then onto a forklift and then be placed on a truck. If it’s cool out, we’ll put tarps over the truck or get an enclosed truck. You know it’s just a short drive from Eppley. So they’ll go – they come here. If it’s too cool out, one of the advantages of this building is we can drive a truck into that building. We have 17-foot-wide doors, which you’ll see. So even in the winter we can drive, bring all six crates in, put them in, and using a crane lift the doors off. These are big heavy steel crates, lift the doors off so we can get them in quickly if its cool out and get them warmed up.”
SEE ALSO: Elephants headed to Henry Doorly Zoo