The Oregon Zoo announced this morning it has purchased legal rights to baby elephant Lily and her father Tusko from the California-based traveling elephant show Have Trunk Will Travel.
The price tag for the two pachyderms? $400,000.
The deal for Lily and Tusko ends a three-month uproar that began when The Seattle Times revealed in December that the Oregon Zoo had traded ownership rights of its newborn elephant calf to Have Trunk Will Travel in exchange for Tusko's breeding services.
Zoo officials say the $400,000 comes entirely from its private nonprofit fundraiser, the Oregon Zoo Foundation, and no public money was used to purchase Lily or Tusko.
WW first reported in December that the zoo's negotiations over Lily had expanded to include Tusko, the 13,000-pound bull elephant that the zoo has been keeping since 2005 on a breeding agreement with Have Trunk Will Travel. That contract gave the traveling show rights to three of the first six calves Tusko fathered.
Zoo officials say today's purchase includes rights to all of Tusko's future offspring.
More as this story develops.
UPDATE, 12:45 pm: Metro reporter Nick Christensen notes that the Oregon Zoo Foundation had more than $8 million in unrestricted reserves at the end of the last fiscal year—more than enough to buy a couple elephants.
He also gets this quote from Oregon Zoo director Kim Smith about why Tusko is a good purchase:
"He has good manners, and understands what it means to
be part of a herd. It's really critical for their welfare," Smith said.
"It was really important to us to continue to be Tusko's advocates in his
life. His wonderful social abilities were really important to our herd. It
wasn't just about owning future offspring. It was about having Tusko as part of
our family group."
Has there ever been a more appropriate moment to celebrate with some Fleetwood Mac? We think not.