The mammoth project to transport elephants from Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire to their new home in Blackpool as part of a new European breeding programme
As tasks go, transporting four Asian elephants 140 miles up one of Britain’s biggest motorways is a pretty mammoth one.
Elephants have been known to die in transit, and sedating them carries some risks.
In this film, previously shown on BBC West Midlands, we follow the brave keepers of Leicestershire’s Twycross Zoo, who have worked for months to prepare their all-female herd for the journey to their new home at Blackpool Zoo – all part of an important breeding programme aimed at reversing the decline of Asian elephants.
Producer Karen Kenworthy tells TV Times how the elephants were prepared…
‘It took a year of training before the elephants were ready for moving day,’ says Karen.
‘The keepers used reward-based training and bucket loads of fruit! It was very elephant-led and there was never any direct contact with the animals, so if the elephant didn’t want to get into the crate on any particular day, they wouldn’t!
‘The crates were on site for months and the elephants could just wander in and out at first. They weren’t shut in them initially either – it was all done at their pace!
‘In the past, elephants would have been sedated to be transported like that, but they’re very sensitive animals and that would have distressed them more. It’s a cliché but elephants have long memories and the Twycross keepers didn’t want to give them an unsettling experience as they started their new life at Blackpool Zoo,’ explains Karen.
Cameras follow the elephants in the run-up to the move, but when the big day dawns, not all of them are happy to cooperate…
Please note this programme airs on Wednesday in Wales
TV Times rating: ***