For the first time ever, a herd of elephants will be released from a zoo back into the wild to provide a healthy living space for the animals and rewild part of their native habitat. The 13 elephants in question will travel from Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent, southern England to a wild space in Kenya.
12 of the elephants were born in England, and one in Israel. This is the first time the animals will be rewilded, but conservationists hope it will set a new precedent for reintroducing the animals to their natural habitat when possible.
The project is being organized by The Aspinall Foundation, which is collaborating with the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Kenya Wildlife Service to identify an optimal site for release in southern Kenya.
Although rewilding elephants is uncharted territory, the foundation successfully rewilded two cheetahs in South Africa last year. The foundation said in a statement, “We look forward to offering that same opportunity to these 13 elephants when they set foot on African soil — home, where they belong, and able to live wild and free as nature intended.”