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Maggie Update

Preparing for her Journey from Alaska

Maggie prepares for her voyage to California


Written by Pat Derby, Cofounder and President

Moving elephants is never easy, but our anticipated relocation of Maggie from Alaska Zoo in Anchorage to ARK 2000 may be the most complicated and dangerous move which PAWS has attempted.

Because the standard elephant crate is too tall to fit in the cargo bay door of a commercial aircraft, we needed a plane with larger doors which left us with very little choice except an Air Force cargo plane. We contacted local authorities in Anchorage and began the lengthy process of requesting an Air Force flight for Maggie. After several weeks of negotiating, we secured permission from the Air Force to fly Maggie for a price—between $215,000 and $300,000.  After picking myself off the floor, I agreed.

Margaret Whittaker of Active Environments, one of our colleagues who always helps us through difficult transitions, has been in Anchorage for the past few weeks working with Maggie and the zoo staff to acclimate Maggie to confinement in the crate for the flight. Margaret worked with Detroit Zoo staff when we moved Winky and Wanda to ARK 2000, and San Francisco Zoo staff before Lulu’s much shorter move. We are all hoping that Maggie’s great migration runs as smoothly as those two moves.

Ed Stewart and our veterinarian, Dr. Mel Richardson, will be flying to Anchorage to accompany Maggie on the flight to California after crate training is complete and Maggie is deemed ready to fly by all concerned. Margaret and Maggie’s veterinarian and keepers from Alaska Zoo will be flying with her as well, and the keepers will stay for a few days to help her adjust to new surroundings and new friends.

Maggie’s keepers have done an excellent job of training Maggie for the trip ahead, and the zoo staff and administrators have been very cooperative in this joint effort to move Maggie safely to her new home.

Our experiences with bringing new elephants to ARK have run the gamut from Annie, grieving inconsolably for her lost companion, Tammy; and Lulu, terrified of all other elephants and aggressive to most people, to Wanda and Ruby who adjusted amazingly well in a very short time. Ultimately, Maggie will join 71, Mara, Lulu and Ruby who will welcome her with loud trumpets and deep rumbles, spinning, urinating and defecating in the exciting ritual of greeting and welcome.

At ARK Maggie will have her own stall in the barn, and an outside yard connected to the larger habitat which will allow her to retreat if she wants to be left alone, and to socialize, touch and converse with the others at her own discretion. Hopefully, she will soon realize how wonderful life can be with four devoted friends to share important elephant experiences: the joy of mud bathing, dusting, grazing, browsing and, most importantly, moving freely over the hills of sunny California.

The cost of Maggie’s move is soaring, and donations in any amount are welcome and greatly appreciated.

Donate to Move Maggie


Performing Animal Welfare Society
PO Box 849, Galt, CA 95632

(209) 745-2606 office/shelter
(209) 745-1809 fax

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