Maggie arrives at new home

Former Alaska elephant settles into California lifestyle

Posted: Sunday, November 04, 2007

SAN ANDREAS, Calif. - After living nearly her whole life in Alaska, Maggie the elephant on Friday made her way to a new home in Northern California.

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The 25-year-old African elephant arrived by plane at Travis Air Force Base, then boarded a truck to the Performing Animal Welfare Society in San Andreas 85 miles away, arriving around 6 a.m., said Vickie Alameda, PAWS' office manager.

She didn't immediately have details about how Maggie is doing.

The Air Force agreed to transport Maggie - for years Alaska's only elephant - as part of a training mission after officials with PAWS and the zoo discovered she was too big for a commercial airline.

Maggie was locked and loaded into a special metal crate Thursday and arrived about midnight at Travis in Fairfield. At the sanctuary, she will have 30 acres to share with nine other elephants.

Maggie arrived in Alaska as a baby in 1983 after her herd was culled in South Africa. She lived as the sole occupant in the zoo's elephant house with concrete floors and a small outside enclosure.

The move comes after a months-long battle between those wanting Maggie to stay at The Alaska Zoo and those advocating for a warmer climate.

The zoo board initially balked at sending Maggie to another facility. With pressure mounting to do better by the elephant, the zoo embarked on an expensive campaign to improve her quality of life, including building a $100,000 treadmill Maggie couldn't be coaxed into using.

Pleas to have her moved grew louder this year when Maggie twice couldn't get back on her feet. Firefighters were called to hoist the 8,000-pound animal into a standing position.

The move became reality after retired game show host Bob Barker promised to donate $750,000 for her care.



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