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Updated: Sun, 20 Oct 2013 19:09:44 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Toronto Zoo elephants arrive in California



Jo-Anne McArthur/Zoocheck Canada/PAWS/AP

Jo-Anne McArthur/Zoocheck Canada/PAWS/AP

Three Toronto Zoo elephants on their way to their new home at a California sanctuary have crossed over from Nevada into California Saturday afternoon.

The convoy carrying the trio arrived in California at about 2:30 p.m. local time. The elephants are expected to reach their destination at the PAWS Wildlife Sanctuary in San Andreas, Calif., in three hours, according to a CBC's fifth estate producer on the ground with the animals.

CBC's current affairs program the fifth estate is following the convoy of trucks carrying Thika, Toka and Iringa andhas been sending live updates throughout the trip.

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

The pachyderm parade had a minor incident Friday night in Walcott, Iowa, at what's billed as the World's Largest Truck Stop. A police cruiser pulled up beside the convoy after someone had made a complaint the elephants' paperwork was not in order. However, officers assessed that was not true but still wanted to check out the elephants before heading away.

The team taking care of the elephants reports that they're eating a lot of hay, drinking water and getting some sleep.

Fifth estate

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.

Once at PAWS sanctuary, the trio will join eight other elephants. Three of them are female African elephants named Maggie, Lulu and Mara.

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