Maggie The Elephant: Where Is She Now?
It is called one of the most intricate animal relocation missions to ever take place in the United States also referred to as the Alaska version of "Operation Dumbo Drop".
It happened back in November of 2007 when Maggie the elephant was transported from the Alaska Zoo to the Performing Animal Welfare Society Wildlife Sanctuary in San Andreas, California.
After the death of the zoo's other elephant, Annabelle, Maggie's emotional and physical health started to decline. Animal advocacy groups rallied to have her moved to the PAWS sanctuary where
she could be around other elephants in a warmer, more conducive climate.
Game show host and animal advocate, Bob Barker, picked up the tab for the complicated arrangements which included Elmendorf Air Force Base and Travis Air Force Base in California. It took a large military cargo plane, a C-17, to make the move possible.
" I mean I still talk about how professional they were and how caring they were about Maggie", says PAWS co-founder and president Ed Stewart. He added " it was like there were about twenty ninjas. Anything that needed to be done was done quietly and respectfully ".
Nine years after the big move, we checked in on Maggie as part of our series "Where Are They Now?" More importantly we find out "How Is She Now?"
We checked on her during a reunion of sorts with Alaska Zoo Director Patrick Lampi who was visiting Maggie for the first time in three years and says he realizes more than ever she's where she should be.
"It was the right thing to do. It just took some time to convince some people it was the best for her health and her long term interests", says Lampi.
It's said elephants have a keen memory, but Lampi says "I didn't see anything that made me believe she recognized me or she didn't care". He adds, "but then again it's not about me she's being an elephant and that's what she should be."
While Alaskans still think of her as "our Maggie" so many others now feel that connection including the military team that made her move possible.
"It was funny about three years after Maggie was here, on November 2nd, the day that we moved her, a C-17 from Travis flew right over the top of this mountain and right over the top of Maggie", says Stewart who adds, "I'm sure it was a fly-by to let them know they hadn't forgotten either."