A jumbo delivery for Blackpool has arrived safely in the resort.
Indian elephant Tara is the first of four elephants being transferred to Blackpool Zoo from Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire.
She was transported by lorry in a special steel crate, arriving at the East Park Drive attraction on Tuesday.
Since then her keepers have been helping her settle into the new elephant house which is already home to Blackpool’s long-term resident elephant Kate.
Darren Webster, director at Blackpool Zoo, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Tara to Blackpool Zoo and she’s settling in well to her new home.
“As you can imagine, moving elephants is a huge task and it has taken well over a year of planning to get to this stage.
“Minbu, along with mother and daughter pair Noorjahan and Esha, will be joining Tara in the near future.
“As we are very much being led by the elephants, we cannot confirm when this will happen.”
Blackpool’s new elephant house is part of a £5m investment in the zoo and is set to open to the public in the spring.
Mr Webster added: “Tara arrived late on Tuesday and has shown a real interest in her new home, which has been specially designed to house a breeding herd of these magnificent creatures.
“Her journey went smoothly, she was out of the crate and exploring within five minutes.
“I know there were a lot of emotional keepers from both Twycross and Blackpool who were absolutely thrilled to see their huge efforts pay off.
“Our keepers have spent months getting to know the four elephants and Tara, who is 19, is quite young at heart and very playful.
“Apparently she isn’t fussy when it comes to food and will eat anything.”
Tara will be kept indoors at first, but people will be able to see her outside in the paddock before the elephant house opens.
Her arrival also heralds an important breeding programme because eventually it is hoped to bring a bull elephant to Blackpool, while Twycross does not have the resources to house a male elephant.
Mr Webster said: “Tara will be spending time in her new home to settle in fully and visitors will be able to see her in the outside
paddock in the coming weeks.
“We are currently planning to fully open the house in early spring.
“Project Elephant is our largest ever single investment and every aspect is based around the needs of the animals.
“This development underpins Blackpool Zoo’s ongoing commitment to the endangered Asian Elephant.
“The species has been listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List since 1986.
“The population has declined by at least 50 per cent over the last three generations, estimated to be 60–75 years, with threats including loss of habitat, habitat degradation, fragmentation and poaching.”
Tara and Kate have separate living quarters at the moment, but can smell and hear each other, and eventually they will be fully introduced to each other.
The elephants are being transported in special steel crates, and keepers have spent months getting them familiarised with them.
Twycross considered all options for its herd before deciding the new facilities at Blackpool would make the best new home for them, and enable them to breed thus helping to safeguard the species.