Seattle elephants make San Diego Zoo their temporary home - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Seattle elephants make San Diego Zoo their temporary home

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The San Diego Zoo is the temporary home for two Seattle based elephants caught in a controversy, after bad weather forced a detour to San Diego on their way to Oklahoma.

The Seattle Zoo tried to move them to a zoo in Oklahoma, but it has been a move animal welfare critics have been furious over.

Bamboo and Chai arrived a week ago, and are expected to remain at the San Diego Zoo for another couple of weeks. Both were reported as doing well, eating and drinking.

Animal activist said the zoo in Seattle knew there was a snowstorm, but continued with the transfer.

"If those animals end up dead, it's all on the Woodland Park Zoo," said Julie Woodyer. 

Despite weeks of protests from animals activists, the 9th Circuit Court denied a last-minute appeal to stop the elephants from moving to the Oklahoma City Zoo.

"The minute the court case was over, the elephants were loaded and put on the road," said Woodyer. 

The 40-hour trip was interrupted by stormy weather, and forced Woodland Park Zoo officials to send Bamboo and Chai to the San Diego Zoo.

Animal activists called it a botched transport, and have requested a full investigation.

"If the investigation shows Woodland Park Zoo was reckless, rushed the transport and took risks with the elephants' safety and welfare, then we want the elephants kept in San Diego, and we want responsibility taken away from Woodland Park Zoo," said an animal activist. 

Back in Oklahoma, zoo team members have prepared a 16,000 square-foot house for both, Bamboo and Chai. Both will be taken to a massive eleven bedroom stall area, each fully furnished with a lot of sand.

"They each have their own sand pillow, and it's really important for elephants especially older animals, it's hard for them to get up from their sleeping position, so with sand piles, they'll actually have something that will help them," said Laura Bottaro

Officials said Oklahoma City Zoo has expertise to integrate herds, and will follow a methodical plan that will socialize Bamboo and Chai with the herd in incremental steps.

Seattle critics said it was poor planning and caused unnecessary stress to the animals.

One critic said, "But the biggest question is why did they leave here either knowing there was bad weather or not having checked the weather at all?"

Bamboo is 48-years old, and Chai is 36-years old.

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