Gift elephant transfer halted

3:31 pm on 2 April 2017

The transfer of a baby elephant to Auckland Zoo is on hold after animal activists in Sri Lanka took legal action against the move.

Six-year-old Nandi was a gifted to former Prime Minister John Key by Sri Lanka president Maithripala Sirisena in February last year.

The elephant was due to be brought to Auckland this month.

It is the second elephant given to New Zealand by Sri Lanka. An eight-year-old female, Anjalee, was flown to Auckland in June 2015.

Elephants arriving to Auckland Zoo. Anjalee pictured with Auckland Zoo’s Elephant Team Leader Andrew Coers

Anjalee, with Auckland Zoo's Elephant Team leader Andrew Coers. Photo: Auckland Zoo

However, a Sri Lanka court has put the transfer on hold after animal activists said it would be cruel to separate the baby elephant from its family.

Auckland Zoo director Jonathan Wicken said zoo staff were very much looking forward to welcoming Nandi and to strengthening the long-standing relationship they have with Sri Lanka.

Zoo vets had travelled to Sri Lanka to prepare the elephant for the move.

The court is due to hear the case later this month.

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