Eighteen elephants are scheduled to board a Boeing 747 in Swaziland to fly to new homes in American zoos.
The elephants are to be distributed between three zoos: the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Neb., the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kan. and the Dallas Zoo. In exchange for the animals, the zoos plan to contribute $450,000 to a wildlife conservation trust for rhinos in Swaziland.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) approved the relocation last year, sparking outrage among conservationists. Four animal rights leaders from different organizations co-signed an objection letter to FWS in November, suggesting permit violations.