NINE elephants from Namibia, aged between six and ten years old, have been relocated to Mexico's acclaimed African Safari Zoo.
For 10 months, the elephants from Namib Game Services were kept in a quarantine camp and several tests for animal diseases were conducted on the world's largest terrestrial mammals which according to the owner, Herbert Henle, were in excellent condition.
"The elephants were tranquillised so that they could be lifted into crates and transported to the Hosea Kutako International Airport, where a Boeing 777-F of Lan Cargo in the US transported them to Mexico," Hernle told The Namibian.
After more than 40 hours in transit, the elephants finally touched down in Mexico last weekend.
During the last count of elephants in Mexico, it was established there were only 29 of the animals left in the South American country.
Describing the relocation process, the zoo's general director Frank Camacho said: "The rescue was a very complex operation that involved six people being in Namibia for 21 days and many months of preparation before that happened. Fortunately we were able to do it."
The Mexican zoo was competing with other animal parks from around the world for the precious elephants. Renowned for its prized conservation and education programme, the zoo beat its competition to nab all nine mammals.
"It was very complex. There were many countries who were interested in participating in this rescue and only African Safari got it. It was a race against time, as we had to do very complex logistical operations, negotiations with the governments of Namibia and Mexico. We achieved it with will power, we got the support of an airline so we could bring this large, valuable cargo," said the zoo officials.
Henle explained that with such a operation it is vital that the right equipment is used for the loading and transporting of the animals.
"However, we have gained some experience during the last few years with the exporting of some other game species, including rhinos and giraffes."
The nine elephants are currently under careful observation by zoo medics after their long journey. Zoo officials hope to move the mammals to a spacious elephant enclosure in the park in the near future.
African Safari Zoo is now home to one of the largest zoo populations in Latin America and with its new additions, the zoo hopes to expand its elephant population even further.