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Zoo News

Zoo News

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approves permit for zoos to offer homes to elephants from drought-stricken Swaziland
Jan 22, 2016

After a thorough scientific review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved an application from the Dallas Zoo, Sedgwick County Zoo and Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium to import elephants from Swaziland, Africa.

The zoos are working quickly to bring the elephants out of Swaziland, where historic drought conditions continue to threaten wildlife and their welfare.

Working collaboratively, the three accredited zoos will provide homes for the elephants that were slated to be culled as part of a conservation plan to prevent further degradation of the land and to make room for critically endangered rhinos in Swaziland’s Big Game Parks. The zoos are also contributing to Swaziland’s rhino conservation strategies, including helping pay to import food for rhinos that are under severe threat by the drought.

Since July, when the elephants were removed from the parks, they have lived in temporary holding areas called bomas. As drought conditions throughout the region worsened, the zoos proactively supported efforts to import food from other regions to feed the elephants, as well as rhinos that are living in the parks and where adequate food resources are not available. “We are making a lifetime commitment to these elephants and their offspring and are providing a safe home for them,” said Dennis Pate, president/CEO of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo.

Gregg Hudson, president/CEO of Dallas Zoo, praised the generous support the three zoos’ local communities have shown for providing a home for the Swaziland elephants. “Our zoos are committed to the safe future of these elephants,” he said. Each social group of elephants will remain together and be cared for in the zoos’ spacious new facilities, which provide room to roam, play and forage in social herd settings.

All three zoos are pledging ongoing support for Swaziland’s rhino conservation program, which is expected to significantly contribute to the survival of rhinos in Africa. “We want to do all we can for both species – elephants and rhinos – that are under severe threat due to poaching, human-animal conflict and habitat loss,” said Mark Reed, executive director of Sedgwick County Zoo. “Our goal is to get these elephants to their new homes as quickly as possible.”

For additional updates on the project, visit