Wolf Song of Alaska News

Alaska Zoo has Eight Possible Homes for Maggie; Process Complex

Decision: Choice may be made within week but there are still obstacles to move

Megan Holland / Anchorage Daily News / July 11, 2007

The next home for Maggie, the Alaska Zoo's lone elephant, may be chosen this week but that's not quick enough for those who want her moved out of Alaska pronto.
Zoo director Pat Lampi said he plans to present a list tonight to the Alaska Zoo board of several options picked from eight institutions that have told the zoo they want the African elephant.

He does not know, though, when the board will make a decision or how long it will take to get Maggie ready for the move.

"Time is marching on and there's a lot to do," said Paul Joslin, wildlife biologist and vice president of the group Friends of Maggie.

Elephant veterinarians still need to check Maggie to see if she is well enough for a long airplane ride over thousands of miles. She needs to be crate trained, and no one knows how long that will take.

And the complicated logistical puzzle of flying an elephant from Alaska to somewhere in the Lower 48 still needs to be put together.

"This is not a small task they are looking at," Joslin said. "It may be by the time they are ready to go, the snow is already here."

Lampi said the zoo shares the hope of moving Maggie by the end of summer. But the zoo also wants to avoid sending Maggie during the height of summer because it may be too hot, depending on where she is going, he said.

Lampi would not say what institutions were on the preliminary list, only that it includes both zoos and sanctuaries. He said several have requested not to be named publicly because they do not want to be unnecessarily embroiled in the Maggie controversy if they are not picked.

Maggie has attracted national attention over the last several years as public pressure to move her -- the only elephant in Alaska -- has grown. Local and national activists have lobbied hard to relocate her to a warmer place where she can be with other elephants. The American Zoo and Aquarium Association, which accredits zoos, recommends elephants be housed with other elephants because they are highly social creatures.

"We are looking for the best possible situation for Maggie," Lampi said.

Find Megan Holland online at adn.com/contact/mholland or call 257-4343.


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