At a truck stop a half hour east of Chicago, a semi driver pulled up to a green van marked with a “Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium” logo.

The driver leaned out the window of his cab and nodded back toward a 17,000-pound gray crate sitting atop a Werner-towed lowboy trailer.

“What’re you hauling?” he asked.

Dr. Julie Napier, the Omaha zoo’s veterinarian, didn’t hesitate.

“An elephant.”

“Wow!” the trucker said, eyes lighting up as he took off, shaking his head. Napier went back to pumping gas.

That conversation in the shadow of an Indiana convenience store captured the sheer rarity of Louie the elephant’s 13-hour-47-minute overnight ride to Omaha. And Napier’s matter-of-fact reaction illuminated just how remarkably unremarkable and safe this trip was going to be.