Franklin Zoo believes it has secured almost half a million dollars worth of services to transport an elephant that killed its keeper to a Californian sanctuary.
However, the zoo still needs to raise almost $1m to pay staff to train her in preparation for that journey.
Last night Franklin Zoo Charitable Trust spokeswoman said it had raised $55,000 from public donations and had been promised $500,000 worth of services from businesses willing to help transport Mila. The businesses cannot be named until the funding had been secured.
A further $870,000 is needed to train Mila for her journey to a Californian sanctuary which trustees hope will be her new home by June 2013. The cost includes funding an accredited zoo operator, an elephant programme manager, two elephant keepers, vet care and medical testing.
The zoo is in financial crisis following the death of zoo keeper Dr Helen Schofield on April 25, who also acted as vet and mentor.
If Mila can't be moved she may have to be put down but Schofield's sister and zoo trustee Jenny Chung said no "death date" for Mila will be set anytime soon.
Chung said public donations are flowing in, some from as far away as Britain, and around $3000 had come in since a Sunday meeting of the trustees.
"The money's still coming in steadily and there's lots of fundraising activity out in the New Zealand community so it's only really just beginning.
"At least that will keep us caring for her until we can get those big dollars to hire the right people to get her ready for travel."
There was no deadline for when the zoo hoped to have the money raised but the zoo staff are determined to get her to the sanctuary.
"We'll keep taking care of her as long as we can and we're very confident we can get her to the sanctuary to live with other elephants."
In the meantime, Chung said Mila was "having a lovely time sloshing around in the dirt and playing in her sand and having exercise as well".
"She's just a happy little elephant out there and all the other animals are well and good too."
The Ministry of Primary Industries had a legislative requirement for the trust to have an accredited zoo manager and elephant programme manager on staff in order for it to remain open.
The animals are currently being cared for by keepers from Auckland and Hamilton zoos.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Do you have an idea for a story? Email us or give us a call on 09 925 9700.