US zoos win legal bid to move 18 elephants out of Swaziland

The operation involves sedating elephant bulls and cows, crating them & hoisting them aboard a cargo plane.

Elephants. Picture:

PRETORIA - Three American zoos have beaten a legal bid to block them from moving 18 elephants out of drought-stricken Swaziland.

Incensed animal rights activists have condemned what they call a cruel, purely money-making operation.

The audacious, secret operation involves sedating three elephant bulls and 15 cows, crating them and hoisting them aboard a cargo plane in Swaziland.

The elephants will be split among zoos in Dallas, Kansas and Nebraska.

They will be exhibited and used for breeding purposes.

Conservation group Friends of Animals, said they were due to argue against transferring what they are calling the 'Stolen 18' in a US Federal Court next Thursday.

They failed to get an emergency injunction to stop the elephants' 15,000 km move from the wild into captivity.