Alaska Zoo officials say they continue to narrow down possible new homes for Maggie. They won't name the contenders, but one sanctuary run by the PAWS foundation and known to be under consideration has offered to foot the shipping bill for the zoo's only elephant.
Zoo director Pat Lampi said he's looking for the best possible place that can care for Maggie for the rest of her life. He's asked the places under consideration for daily-life video footage of their elephants, financial records and the resumes of their keepers and veterinarians.
After a home is picked, veterinarians will be flown up to see if Maggie is well enough to travel. Lampi said it's likely the chosen facility will want to conduct its own evaluation. When Maggie departs depends on the results of the medical evaluation, he said.
The zoo's vet is keeping an eye on Maggie's scrapes from when she went down and couldn't get up in May. They appear to be healing. Pictures of the wounds have been sent to Outside vets for consensus, Lampi said.
Wildlife biologist Paul Joslin, vice president of the group Friends of Maggie, says he is resting easier since the board decided earlier this summer to move the African elephant. But the slow pace is troubling, he said.
"We're still working on a list and the summer is marching on," Joslin said. "You've got to crate-train her, and you don't want to do that in sub-zero weather."
Animal rights activists nationwide expressed dismay at the indefinite timeline set by the zoo board.
"This is not like shipping a dog," Lampi said in reaction to those who think the zoo is stalling. "What we're interested in is having a successful transfer."
PAWS, which stands for Performing Animal Welfare Society, offered a spot to Maggie at their 30-acre sanctuary in Galt, Calif. PAWS maintains three wildlife sanctuaries. Both African and Asian elephants formerly from circuses and zoos make their home at PAWS sanctuaries.
Find Leslie Anne Jones online at adn.com/contact/ljones or call 257-4200.