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Operation Maggie Migration Update

After weeks of preparation and training, at approximately 1:00 pm on Thursday, November 1st, Maggie walked calmly into her specially designed crate, the doors were closed behind her at 1:30 pm, and the crate with it's precious cargo was lifted by a giant crane onto the truck that would take Maggie to her special Air Force plane for her flight to California. Maggie trumpeted farewell as the truck pulled out of the back of the zoo.

Maggie and her entourage of Alaska Zoo staff and administrators, PAWS staff, veterinarians, a film crew and the crane arrived at Elmendorf Air Base at approximately 4:20 pm. Maggie's crate was prepped for travel (special tray to contain the poop) as well wishers who had followed the caravan from the zoo stood by watching and waving farewell signs. The crane lifted her once again into the vast belly of an Air Force C17 cargo plane, and Operation Maggie Migration began with another loud trumpet from the star of the show.

The huge aircraft left Elmendorf at 8:00 pm that night and arrived at Travis Air Base in California at 12:30 am on Friday, November 2nd. During the four hour flight, Maggie's keepers, Alaska Zoo Director, Pat Lampi; veterinarians and PAWS Director, Ed Stewart,

were able to monitor her reaction to the flight and provide treats and comfort during her journey. Maggie remained calm throughout the flight, trumpeting once on the descent into California.

At Travis Air Base, Maggie's reception committee was huge and enthusiastic. PAWS staff waited with vans for Maggie's human companions on the trip and Air Force personnel who would accompany her to ARK 2000, another crane, the truck which would haul her crate and reporters, photographers and television crews from around the world who would report Maggie's arrival at the PAWS sanctuary. The jubilant crowd watched as the crate was lifted off the plane and Maggie landed on California soil for the first time. After a brief rest, Maggie was loaded on the truck, and she and her convoy of friends, fans and benefactors departed on the final leg of her journey to PAWS.

Meanwhile, at ARK 2000, Pat Derby and the elephant crew had been up most of the night preparing for Maggie's arrival. Another crane to lift the crate off the truck for the last time had arrived and was maneuvered into position near the elephant barn, a load of dirt was mounded in Maggie's sleeping stall and tractors and equipment were ready for any emergency.

At 6:00 am, Pat and the elephant crew began the early morning routine of baths and breakfast for 71, Mara, Lulu and Ruby who were unusually active and excited; they knew something big was about to happen. When they finally moved out to the habitat, all four stayed glued to the fence waiting, with trunks sniffing the air, for their new companion.

Maggie's truck drove down the road at 8:30 am as film crews recorded the momentous occasion. Brian and Frank, the local crane operators, started the giant crane and Maggie's crate was lifted off the truck for her unloading into the African elephant barn as Air Force personnel, Alaska Zoo and PAWS staff and a coterie of photographers watched anxiously.

Just at that moment, Minnie, the dominant female Asian elephant moved up to the fence across from the barn and stood surveying the activity. She had seen the crane and perceived it to be a threat to her group which, for Minnie, was a challenge to action.

Minnie was soon distracted with bamboo and other treats, and Maggie's crate was lowered to the ground, the doors were opened and Maggie backed nonchalantly out of the crate, peering at the crowd with an imperious gaze. As cameras flashed, Maggie calmly ambled into the African barn and her keepers led her to her stall. She looked incredibly well after the long trip.

Maggie took a long, hot bath, dusted, ate treats while her veterinarians examined her and walked around exploring her new home. We opened the gate leading to the introductory yard where 71 and her group were hanging over the fence anticipating Maggie's arrival. Maggie followed her keepers and a bucket of treats out to the yard with no hesitation until Mara, our rowdy troublemaker, trumpeted. Maggie retreated a few feet, then made a thundering mock charge at the four elephants.

We were very happy to see her intrepid response to the group, as it signaled a quick introduction. Some elephants, particularly those who have lived alone, are frightened when confronted with a daunting array of elephants, but Maggie was impervious. She sauntered around, played in the mud hole and munched on sweet new grass which has just appeared after a recent rain. The other elephants remained at the fence all day, trunks outstretched, fascinated with the prospect of a new addition to their group.

That evening, after Maggie was comfortably settled in her stall, we brought Ruby into the barn first, and her noisy reaction to her new companion triggered a panic attack from Lulu.

It took a while to get Lulu past Maggie, and 71 and Mara were quite raucous after the long wait. The rumbles from that group were soon squelched by a giant roar from Maggie who is just a bit larger than Lulu. We were all shocked at the velocity of her vocalization and her bold acceptance of the group's presence. After a noisy period of greeting, the group settled in their individual stalls and dinner was served.

Pat Derby slept in the barn that night. Her log recorded: 11:00 pm-- all quiet except for the heavy breathing and snoring as they sleep. Maggie is not lying down, but she is very relaxed and obviously resting. 2:00 am-- Soft rumbles, almost purrs from all. The sounds of a contented group. I am amazed! I expected a lot of activity and noise, and some trepidation from Maggie. She is amazingly calm, and the others act like she has lived here for years. What a lovely beginning for Maggie.

DAY TWO-- Saturday, November 3rd.-- Morning routines were established, and Maggie went out to the introductory yard after 71's group went to the habitat. Maggie explored most of the day with her keepers encouraging her to move up and down the hill. She was somewhat hesitant at first, but soon moved about munching grass and rumbling. She is very vocal, and has the same clicking sound that 71 and Mara make when they are happy. Her most interesting vocalization is almost a honk like a fog horn which she uses to ask for treats. It is quite effective. We are constantly amazed at how quickly she is adapting and how interested she is in the other elephants and the habitat.

PM Maggie laid down to sleep from 3:00 am to 5:00 am

DAY THREE-- Sunday, November 4th-- We kept 71, Mara, Lulu and Ruby in the barn today. Maggie's keepers, Jaime and Angie, and Alaska Zoo Curator, Shannon, took Maggie into the big habitat today, and she moved around with no hesitation. After her trip outside, we brought her in and opened up the hallway that connects to the other elephants. They were all excited, and we saw a lot of trunk touching as they reached through the barriers to greet and explore. Low rumbles were a good indicator of acceptance, and we were again pleased when ebullient Mara's trumpets elicited Maggie's stertorian roar. She is definitely a very bold little girl who has already charmed everyone at PAWS- human and elephant.

PM-- Maggie laid down for most of the night.

DAY FOUR-- Monday, November 5th-- After morning routines, we moved 71's group to the habitat and Maggie into the introductory yard. What a great day! Rumbles and trumpets and lots of Maggie fog horn sounds with trunk touching over the fence. This will be the routine until Maggie is comfortable enough with the others to go out with them.

PAWS web cam will focus on the Maggie socialization process every day. The individuals which are seen on the web cam are Maggie's keepers and PAWS elephant crew. Her introduction will be a slow process which will depend on Maggie's acceptance of the other elephants. The best indicator of this will be Maggie backing into the others in the elephant behavior which signifies trust-- turning her back to the others.



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

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