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Air Force set to transport Alaskan elephant to California

Air Force set to transport Alaskan elephant to California

In all deference to fictitious fellow pachyderm Nellie, and with the help of a U.S. Air Force C-17, come this time next week Maggie the elephant will pack her trunk and say goodbye to Alaska.

   The 25-year-old African elephant, a long-time resident of the Alaska Zoo, will be transported aboard the military cargo plane Thursday to the Performing Animals Welfare Society near Sacramento, Calif.

   The animal welfare group turned to the Air Force because no safe commercial transportation methods were available.

   After weeks of training for the trip, Maggie will enter a specially designed 10-by-8-by-18-foot, 10,000-pound crate that will hold her for the 12-hour flight to Travis Air Force Base about 40 miles southwest of Sacramento.

   PAWS will reimburse the Air Force for the full cost of the flight, at commercial rates, to the tune of $200,000.

   Maggie has been a resident of the Alaska Zoo since 1983 when she was brought there as a companion for the only other elephant at the zoo, Annabelle.

   Annabelle is famous for being part of a 1966 Chiffon Tissue contest that allowed the winner to choose $3,000 or an elephant. The winner, an Anchorage, Ala. grocer, chose Annabelle as his prize. In 1969, she was moved to the Alaska Zoo. Maggie, a rescue from a culled herd in Zimbabwe, was brought to the zoo in 1983. Annabelle died in 1997 and since, animal rights groups have urged the zoo to move Maggie to a larger facility with a warmer climate. PAWS has seven elephants at their three reserves in California.

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