Swazi elephants coming to Omaha

Two of the Swazi elephants coming to Omaha.

It’s been a long, bumpy journey for the six elephants that arrived at the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium on Friday. The highlights:

October 2010: African elephant Maliaka dies, leaving her companion, Shenga, alone at the Omaha zoo.

March 2011: Shenga departs Omaha for the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo after officials determine that she should live with other elephants

February 2014: Omaha zoo CEO Dennis Pate travels to Swaziland, observes elephants and strikes a deal with Big Game Parks wildlife reserve to import them.

April 2014: The zoo announces it will reintroduce elephants and zebras at the future African Grasslands exhibit.

September 2015: The zoo says 18 African elephants will be imported from Swaziland as part of a deal with partner zoos in Dallas and Wichita. Six will come to Omaha.

November 2015: The Animal Legal Defense Fund, on behalf of several animal rights organizations, seeks to delay the elephant import by requesting an extension of the public comment period from U.S. Fish and Wildlife. The wildlife service denies the request.

Feb. 9, 2016: Friends of Animals, an animal rights group, files a lawsuit against U.S. Fish and Wildlife, asking a federal court to suspend the service’s import permit.

March 8: After Omaha and the partner zoos send an airplane to Swaziland, sedate the elephants and load them for transport, Friends of Animals seeks an emergency restraining order to block the import. A judge rules to allow the transport.

March 10: Omaha and the partner zoos announce that one of the 18 elephants died in December. Dallas, which already had four elephants, will now receive five; Omaha and Wichita are still receiving six.

March 11: The elephants arrive at Eppley Airfield after a three-day journey. Trucks take them to the Omaha zoo, where the animals will have time to acclimate to their new environment before going on display.

March 31: A U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarian clears the elephants in a final examination.

April 6: The elephants make their public debut.

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