Auckland Zoo is to buy two new elephants after the council was persuaded that they would be money-spinners.
The Asian elephants will cost $3.2 million.
The zoo has been home to one elephant, 28-year-old Burma, since her companion, Kashin, died in 2009.
There has been lengthy debate about the future of elephants at the zoo, with an animal welfare group arguing that the international trend is against keeping elephants in captivity.
However, councillors have voted 2-1 after a regional facility agency said it could borrow the money and partly repay it from an expected visitor windfall of nearly $1 million over five years.
Last year, a $13 million proposal to expand the elephant enclosure to accommodate up to 10 animals was endorsed by the former Auckland City Council, but the plan was later downsized.