Franklin Zoo's elephant Mila, who crushed keeper Helen Schofield, is expected to be heading for the United States soon.
After being a lone elephant for most of her life, 40-year-old Mila is being relocated to a facility where she can integrate with other animals, Woman's Day reported.
People from around New Zealand had donated money for the relocation, but the main sponsors were a few individuals who wanted to remain anonymous.
"It costs $1.2 million for the transportation, with the plane costing $800,000 alone," Schofield's sister, Jenny Chung, told the magazine.
Mila was with her former trainer, Hamilton man Tony Ratcliffe, for 31 years before being taken to Franklin Zoo by vet Schofield in 2009.
At the time of Schofield's death, Tony Ratcliffe's brother Robin told the Waikato Times the family had warned officials something would happen if the transition was not handled correctly.
"This tragedy was in the making," he said. "We didn't have any doubt. It was only a matter of time."
Robin Ratcliffe, founder of Hamilton engineering firm Modern Transport Engineers, said the killing would have been linked to prolonged separation from her former handler, Tony Ratcliffe.
Her transition to Franklin Zoo should have taken at least two years with Tony's assistance, but instead, she was taken from the Ratcliffes and they had not been allowed to see her since.
"So now we see a distressed animal ... because it's lost the one thing that it knows it's got security with - my brother. Everyone else becomes a threat.
"She [dealt] out some punishment. She wouldn't have done that if she was happy."
For the past year international elephant expert Erin Ivory - the surname she was born with - has been working with Mila to prepare the animal for the journey.
"Mila is a very smart elephant and a quick learner. In the first six months, she learnt over 18 different behaviours.
''Most of the behaviours are necessary for her transport and health needs, but others are simply for fun and mental stimulation," Ivory told Woman's Day.
Mila will soon make the journey on a specially chartered plane, along with the team from Franklin and an international animal transportation specialist. She will have three months in quarantine before moving to her new home.
Franklin Zoo closed to the public after Schofield's death in April 2012, while staff and volunteers tried to find homes for the animals.
Chung said that had now been done, with 420 animals and birds saved from being euthanised. Mila is the last to go.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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