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Updated: Sat, 19 Oct 2013 10:18:51 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Toronto zoo elephant convoy passes inspection in Chicago

Jo-Anne McArthur/Zoocheck Canada/PAWS/AP

Jo-Anne McArthur/Zoocheck Canada/PAWS/AP

Three Toronto Zoo elephants en route to their new home in California have passed an inspection in Chicago and are back on the road.

Agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service conducted a quick inspection of the animals and sent them on their way Friday afternoon.

CBC's current-affairs program the fifth estate is following the convoy of trucks carrying Thika, Toka and Iringa to the PAWS Wildlife Sanctuary in San Andreas, Calif., andhas been sending live updates throughout the trip.

- the fifth estate: Click here for up-to-the-minute coverage of the elephants' journey south

Producer Lynette Fortune was interviewed Friday on CBC News Network and said the elephants are travelling well.

Their convoy crossed the U.S. border early Friday after leaving the Toronto Zoo before 11 p.m. ET on Thursday.

"I don't think the border agents believed what they were seeing," she reported. "They got out their flashlights and looked at Iringa's foot and as the truck pulled away they said, 'Be careful with them.'"

Fortune reported that the elephants are "riding very well."

"The goal is to keep them warm and comfy during the journey," she said.

A fifth estate photo documenting the elephants' journey shows the team of handlers installing panels on the elephants' transport trailers to keep them warm during the trip, which is expected to take about 50 hours.

Several handlers and veterinarians are travelling with the pachyderms. One of the elephant experts told Fortune that these are the quietest elephants of the 18 she's ever moved. 

The team took multiple breaks along the highway on Friday to rest, feed and water the animals. The convoy had packed 54 bales of hay for the trip.

Toronto city council voted in 2011 to send the three aging elephants to the PAWS sanctuary after animal rights advocates voiced concern for their welfare.

A series of squabbles involving zoo staff, city councillors and animal advocates delayed their departure.

In the end, it was decided to move the elephants to a new home in a warmer climate.

For more than a year, trainers worked with the elephants to prepare them for their move, so that the pachyderms would feel comfortable in their crates when being transported.

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