SEATTLE -- So much for Seattle's elephants going to Oklahoma City. They're resting under the sun in San Diego instead.
Woodland Park Zoo’s female Asian elephants, Bamboo and Chai, departed on a custom-built elephant transport vehicle for their new home at Oklahoma City Zoo on Wednesday.
However, the caravan had to change their route in Salt Lake City due to a snowstorm in Colorado and Wyoming that was expected to increase in severity.
"Because the reroute would have extended the trip a day longer, a decision was made for veterinary precautions to go to San Diego Zoo and allow the elephants to rest," the Woodland Park Zoo said.
According to Martin Ramirez, mammal curator at Woodland Park Zoo, an extra day on the road would have been challenging for Bamboo and Chai.
“For their well-being, we made the proactive decision to head to San Diego Zoo. They have expert elephant and veterinary staff, the room to accommodate our elephants and the appropriate equipment on site to unload our elephants,” said Ramirez.
The elephants arrived at the San Diego Zoo Thursday. They are reportedly in good shape.
Woodland Park Zoo’s and San Diego Zoo’s veterinarians conducted a preliminary health assessment on each elephant.
“Understandably, just as after a long road trip ourselves, both elephants are tired and show signs of muscle stiffness. They both need the time to walk around, stretch their legs, and adjust to their new surroundings," Ramirez said.
"We don’t know how long our elephants will stay at San Diego Zoo. We want to give them time to rest comfortably,” said Ramirez.
“We are extremely grateful that San Diego Zoo has opened its home to accept Bamboo and Chai at this time. We are fortunate that the expert team at San Diego Zoo is available to provide this assistance and accommodation,” said Dr. Deborah Jensen, Woodland Park Zoo President and CEO.
“We are disappointed that we couldn’t continue on to Oklahoma City, but the health and welfare of our elephants come first. We did not want to keep them on the road an additional day.”
It was unclear when the elephants will travel to Oklahoma City.
The San Diego Zoo said female elephants Bamboo, 48, and Chai, 36, arrived at the San Diego Zoo have been placed into quarantine while animal care staff evaluate their condition.
San Diego Zoo’s Elephant Care Center was opened in 2009 as a specialized care center for ailing and geriatric elephants.