French elephants spared death head to new royal home

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Les éléphantes Baby et Népal sont arrivées à Monaco

Baby et Népal au zoo du “Parc de la Tête d’Or” le 11 juillet 2013 à Lyon © AFP Philippe Desmazes

LYON, France – (AFP) – Two elephants saved from euthanasia after an outcry in France left a zoo in Lyon on Thursday for their new home at a ranch belonging to Monaco’s royal family.

Princess Stephanie of Monaco looked on as Baby and Nepal, who had been ordered killed over suspected tuberculosis, were loaded into containers and lifted onto a truck for the eight-hour journey to the principality.

The princess has agreed to host the two elephants, aged 42 and 43, at the royal family’s Roc Agel ranch in the Alpes-Maritimes region in the southeastern corner of France.

“Everything went really well,” zoo director Xavier Vaillant told AFP after the elephants’ departure.

“They will live in a place where there will be no risk to the public,” he said, adding that the animals will soon be retested.

The elephants were to be put down in December, when municipal officials in Lyon decided they had almost certainly been infected with TB and warned they could be a threat to the health of other animals and visitors to the Tete d’Or zoo in the city.

Authorities later lifted the threat of execution after an outcry that saw film-star-turned-animal-rights campaigner Brigitte Bardot threaten to quit the country for Russia if they were killed.

More than 11,000 people signed a petition urging that the elephants not be killed and their former owner, the Pinder circus, called for the president to issue a stay of execution.

Sources in the royal family said the elephants would live in a 3,500 square metre (38,000 square foot) enclosure “with a huge wooden shelter and a pool from them to drink from and cool off in.”


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