Niabi Zoo prepares to move elephants

Babe and Sophie - Niabi Zoo Elephants (WQAD Photo)

Babe and Sophie - Niabi Zoo Elephants (WQAD Photo)

Trailer at Niabi Zoo elephant enclosure 10-4-13 (WQAD Photo)

Trailer at Niabi Zoo elephant enclosure 10-4-13 (WQAD Photo)

The elephants are being prepared for their upcoming move out of Niabi Zoo in Coal Valley, Illinois.

A trailer was inside the elephant enclosure at Niabi Zoo on Friday, October 4, 2013.

Zoo Director Marc Heinzman said Asian elephants Babe and Sophie will eventually travel in the trailer, and that it was placed in the enclosure so the elephants could get accustomed to being inside of the trailer before they are moved.

Heinzman did not give an exact timeline for the move.  He previously confirmed the elephants would be gone from Niabi Zoo by the 2014 season.

The Rock Island County Forest Preserve Commission voted in July 2013 to move Babe and Sophie, the only two elephants in Illinois, out of Niabi Zoo.  It was expected then that the elephants would be moved by winter.

Negative impact from the cold climate, small indoor shelter and continuing health problems all contributed to a campaign to move the elephants out of Niabi Zoo.

The outdoor portion of the elephant enclosure was expanded in early 2013.  Zoo officials say the money that had been going in to the enclosure will continue to go into a capital improvement fund that will go to other projects throughout the zoo.

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