Jumbo Link

Oct 14, 2007 (LBO) – Sri Lanka will give a baby elephant to the Armenia zoo in exchange for veterinary training to an animal “suitable” for local conditions, a government minister said Sunday.

Asokamala, the nine-year old female from the island’s elephant orphanage at the central village of Pinnawela will be sent to Armenia along with two mahouts and a veterinary surgeon, Recreation Minister Gamini Lokuge said.

“The Armenian government has made several requests for another elephant to keep company with the only elephant they have, which was also gifted by Sri Lanka many years ago,” Lokuge said.

“We are not only exchanging animals with Armenia, but getting professional help for our vets. Armenia has also allowed us to select animals suited for our climate,” the minister said.

The elephant exchange may take place this month, Lokuge said.

He said the swap was approved by Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers making an exception to government policy of not giving away elephants born at the country’s only elephant orphanage which has a successful breeding programme. .