The journey, which started in the early hours of the morning in the Bavarian capital, went smoothly and without complications. Panang has returned to her former home to be reunited with her mother Ceyla-Himali and younger sister Farha on the recommendation of the EAZA Ex-situ Programme (EEP) for Asian elephants. As had been planned for weeks, the day of the move began with the usual daily training in the Elephant House. The only difference was that on Tuesday morning when Panang stepped out into the paddock there was a large, heated specialised transport crate waiting in front of one of the gates, into which she was led after completing her morning routine. 

“Both the training and the leading of the elephant into the transport crate went smoothly. Panang walked backwards into the container very calmly, allowing us to load quickly,” says Daniel Materna, team leader of the Elephant House. The specialised transport crate, which weighs around five tonnes, was then hoisted onto a trailer and finally onto a low-loader using a mobile crane. The purpose-built vehicle, operated by a company that specialises in transporting zoo animals, then set off on the autobahn towards Zurich. Panang was accompanied on her journey by her two keepers Daniel Materna and Robert Ostermeier, who will stay with her in Zurich for the first few days to help her settle in after moving home.

Her arrival in Zurich in the early evening also went smoothly. “Panang exited the container without hesitation. “She was then able to acclimatise a bit before spending her first night in her new home, which features a large sandbox with fresh branches, lots of hay and a small bathing pool,” adds Materna. On her first day back in Zurich, Panang will have the opportunity to explore her new surroundings undisturbed. She is then expected to be reunited with her mother Ceyla and meet her sister Fahra for the first time in the next few days.

Zoo director Rasem Baban is pleased with the result: “The entire move, from preparation to implementation, was very professional and represents an outstanding achievement by the entire team.”

Panang the elephant was born on 13 February 1989 at Zurich Zoo and moved to Hellabrunn Zoo in 1995. On the recommendation of the EEP, she has now moved back to her former home to be reunited with her ageing mother Ceyla-Himali (born 1975) and her younger sister Fahra (born 2005), the latter of whom she has never met. The aim is to enable elephants residing in zoos to live together in matriarchal structures, that is in family groups led by a female relative, like their counterparts in the wild.

“I am very pleased that the move to Zurich was successfully implemented. I wish Panang all the best for her arrival at Zurich Zoo and her reunion with her mother and sister,” says Verena Dietl, mayor and chair of the supervisory board at Hellabrunn Zoo.

[Translate to English:] Der Spezialtransporter angedockt an das Elefantenhaus in Hellabrunn.
[Translate to English:] Der Spezialcontainer für den Transport ist an das Elefantenhaus angedockt. Der Kran steht ebenfalls bereit.
[Translate to English:] Panang ist im Spezialcontainer, umsorgt von einem vertrauten Tierpfleger.
[Translate to English:] Panang konnte ruhig in den beheizten Spezialcontainer geführt werden. Tierpfleger Daniel Materna achtet sorgsam auf die Elefantendame.
[Translate to English:] Das Tierpflegerteam mit Tierparkdirektor Rasem Baban.
[Translate to English:] Tierparkdirektor Rasem Baban und das Tierpflegerteam des Elefantenhauses prüfen die letzten Vorbereitungen vor der Abfahrt.
[Translate to English:] Elefantendame Panang ist gut im Zoo Zürich in der Sandbox angekommen.
[Translate to English:] Panang ist gut im Zoo Zürich angekommen. Frische Äste, viel Heu und ein kleines Badebecken stehen für den Elefanten in der Sandbox zur Eingewöhnung bereit.