Two Asian elephants from San Diego Zoo move into new digs in L.A - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Two Asian elephants from San Diego Zoo move into new digs in L.A.

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Two female Asian elephants from San Diego moved into their new digs in Los Angeles overnight, and they were greeted by chirps and grunts from the L.A. Zoo's lone elephant, a male.

Tina and Jewel were given access to their new quarters at the zoo, and keepers reported they made grunts, squeaks and chirps. The zoo's 25-year-old Billy answered with noises of his own, according to zoo officials.

But Billy will have to be content with a strictly vocal friendship for 30 days, while the two San Diego elephants are quarantined. Keepers then plan to slowly introduce the pair to Billy, who has been alone since 2006, when the second of two elderly female elephants died of arthritis complications.

The three elephants will be the centerpiece of the Los Angeles Zoo's $42 million Elephants of Asia exhibit, which will open for public view Dec. 16. The loan of the two elephants from the San Diego Zoo is open-ended.

The females, believed to be in their mid-40s, have been in San Diego since federal agents removed them from their private owner in Texas more than a year ago. They have lived together for 25 years.

The L.A. Zoo elephant enclosure has sparked protests, with a small number of animal rights activists filing suit against the city to try to block its construction. Courts have thus far rejected those challenges.

The zoo has been exhibiting elephants since 1966.

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