Source AP ©

Elephant flies to sunny California

Maggie, Alaska's only elephant, made her way to California. It will be her new home after living nearly her whole life in the cold state.

The 25-year-old African elephant arrived at Travis Air Force Base here bound for the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in the northern California town of San Andreas 85 miles (137 kilometers) away.

The Air Force agreed to transport Maggie - for years Alaska's only elephant - as part of a training mission after officials with PAWS and the zoo discovered she was too big for a commercial airline.

Maggie was locked and loaded into a special metal crate Thursday and arrived about midnight at Travis in Fairfield. She was trucked to her new home at the sanctuary, where she will have 30 acres (12.14 hectares) to share with nine other elephants.

Maggie elephant (360gradusov.lv)
Maggie elephant (360gradusov.lv)
Maggie arrived in Alaska as a baby in 1983 after her herd was culled in South Africa. She lived as the sole occupant in the zoo's elephant house with concrete floors and a small outside enclosure.

The move comes after a monthslong battle between those wanting Maggie to stay at The Alaska Zoo and those advocating for a warmer climate.

The zoo board initially balked at sending Maggie to another facility. With pressure mounting to do better by the elephant, the zoo embarked on an expensive campaign to improve her quality of life, including building a $100,000 (€69,333) treadmill Maggie could not be coaxed into using.

Pleas to have her moved grew louder this year when Maggie twice could not get back on her feet. Firefighters were called to hoist the 8,000-pound (3,629-kilo) animal into a standing position.

The move became reality after retired game show host Bob Barker promised to donate $750,000 (€520,002) for her care.