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Niueans ready to welcome baby elephants

Monday 9 February 2015 | Published in Regional


ALOFI – Niue is almost all set to host a couple of baby elephants destined for Auckland Zoo.

The Niue government has confirmed it will host baby elephants in a new quarantine facility while they transit from Sri Lanka to New Zealand.

Auckland Zoo says it’s staff will care for the two new companions for their current elephant, 32 year old ‘Burma’, who has been alone since 40 year old ‘Kashin’ died in 2009.

The Niuean Government Secretary Richard Hipa says a recent visit to Niue by Sir Don McKinnon and a delegation from New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries was positive and he’s hoping the first of two elephants will arrive in Niue at the end of this month and work on the elephant house is progressing to schedule.

“Probably more than half of the developments on site has been completed. It is located in one of the villages, Avatele and it is located on Crown Land. But even though it is on Crown Land consultations have been carried out with the people of the village in order to advise on all the developments with regards to the elephant quarantine station.

“There’s supposed to be two baby elephants. And I believe the first one is scheduled to be here at the end of this month, February. And we’re not certain of when the other baby elephant will be here in Niue.

Hipa said he believes the lephants will each be hosted for three or four months but it “depends on how things go”.

“They will be flown in by plane. This is a special arrangement and I think it’s a special plane to carry the elephants. I don’t believe it’s going to be a direct flight from Sri Lanka to Niue, there’s going to be some stopovers.

“Part of the mission of Sir Don McKinnon’s delegation was to look at the airport, look at how we’re going to handle the transportation of the elephants on arrival here in Niue.”

Hipa said local people and visitors to the island will be able to view the elephants.

“Part of the arrangement was to have a watching platform. So the area has been constructed in order to satisfy the requirements of quarantine.

“At the same time there will be a viewing platform built for people to go and watch the elephants. So this is from outside. But there will be a viewing platform. And I believe there’s excitment from people knowing that we will be having elephants in Niue.”

Hipa says an environmental impact report has been done for the project.