Elephants coming to zoo despite legal battle

Posted at 6:14 PM, Mar 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-09 19:19:26-05

Over a dozen elephants are on their way to the U.S. from Swaziland, Africa. Six of them will come to the Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and the others will go to the Dallas Zoo and the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas.

This comes after a legal fight with an animal rights group.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a permit to transport the 18 elephants from Africa last month. The animal rights group, Friends for Animals, filed a lawsuit to stop the transport, and then filed a restraining order after learning that the animals were going to be shipped on Tuesday.  A judge decided to life that restraining order, citing concern about that elephant’s health.

“Without any forewarning from the zoo's we learned from someone in Swaziland what was going on yesterday morning so it all happened quite fast,” said Friends for Animals Wildlife Director Michael Harris.

He said they are calling these elephants the “Stolen 18,” and they feel they were underhanded and unable to fight for the elephants. 

“Legally there is not a whole lot we can do now, but I don't think anyone is going to let the zoo's forget and I think that this is something we are going to make sure that everyone who visits those animals over their lifetime knows their story,” said Harris.

The Omaha Zoo released a statement about the transport and said it was in the best interest for the elephants to be moved as soon as possible because there is not enough food or water for them to survive in Swaziland due to a drought.

SEE ALSO: Elephants headed to Henry Doorly Zoo

People who were at the zoo were happy to hear about the incoming elephants.

“I am excited; I can’t wait until they get here and I can come back and see them,” said Janet Schrader.

“Every time we come there is new stuff constantly, its fun exciting, can't wait to see those big guys,” said Randy Myers.

Some viewers on Facebook were not as happy. Christopher said everyone should leave the elephants alone, and Heather said she hates that Africa sells their animals to make a dime and she feels sorry for these beings that have been ripped away from their families to live their lives in a cage.

The zoo did decline to talk with KMTV and did not release when the elephants will arrive in Omaha.