When pigs fly, and other tales of animal transport

Oct. 5, 2004
When pigs fly, and other tales of animal transportMoving more than 500 breeding pigs weighing a collective 65 tons from Denmark to Chinatook a bit more

Moving more than 500 breeding pigs — weighing a collective 65 tons — from Denmark to Chinatook a bit more effort than, say, sticking a pet poodle in a cage and carrying it under a passenger's seat from one airport to another.

Work to handle the transport of the breeding swine was handled by the largest airline in The People's Republic of China, China Southern Airlines (www.cs-air.com).

Through the early stages of the move, the airline maintained close contact with S.E.A./DanBred International (www.danbred.dk), Denmark's sales and export association for breeding pigs.

Cages were built specifically for the move. Dimensions had to conform exactly to the airline's Boeing 747-400 freighter. The three-level cages contained built-in drink facilities for the pigs. In all, they comprised 15 main deck pallets.

The freighter was rerouted from Liege, Belgium, to Billund Airport, the international airport of west Denmark. Timing was important throughout the course of the transport. For example, the pigs were released from quarantine — after a final inspection by local veterinarians to be sure they could all safely fit into their cages — just prior to departure. In order to avoid daytime heat, the flight departed Billund at 1:50 a.m. and flew directly to its final destination, Zhengzhou, China, arriving at 5:00 p.m.

S.E.A. not only helps select breeding pigs but also makes all health and sanitary arrangements, including assisting with transport in special trucks and airplanes. It has exported breeding pigs to more than 35 countries. For its part, China Southern Airlines is accustomed to handling animal shipments to all parts of the world, but on a much smaller scale.

All involved with the logistics of moving the pigs were pleased with the results. As for the swine themselves, it's suspected that their offspring will not necessarily live happily ever after.

Rhino gets back to where she once belonged
Hama, a three-year-old rhinoceros cow, was ready to move from the Frankfurt (Germany) Zoo where she was born to the Marakele National Park in South Africa.

Hama, a three-year-old rhinoceros cow, is an extremely important animal, being bred to help increase the diminishing-herd of black rhinos, now being-threatened with extinction. So movingher safely was a critical transportation challenge.

Logistics for the move involved creating a special case for travel as well as sensitivity to the animal's special nature and needs. Hama had previously been scheduled to leave Frankfurt in 2003, but the move had to be postponed until she was ready to leave her mother.

Lufthansa Cargo (www.lufthansacargo.com) provided air transportation through its Live/td animal transportation service. Once in her special crate, Hama moved by road from the zoo to the Frankfurt Airport, accompanied by her Frankfurt zookeeper and a South African rhinoceros specialist.

Once in South Africa, Hama spent time at the Kruger National Park in order to recover from the rigors of the flight and become accustomed to a different climate, sounds and smells. Her next move was to a larger area of about 2-1/2 acres to allow her to adapt to the country's vegetation and soil.

The rhino's final move was to Marakele, where she now resides in a 250-acre wild range.

It's all happening at the zoo
Willie the baboon was lonely, sitting in his cage at the Cefn-Yr-Erw Primate Sanctuary in South Wales, U.K. He had been alone since Emirates Sky Cargo (www.sky-cargo.com) had arranged and sponsored his trip to the sanctuary from Bahrain four months earlier. Cefn-Yr-Erw doesn't breed animals for sale or exchange; instead, it specializes in providing a home and care for primates.

Willie's solitary state was soon to change. The same airline had located an 18-month-old Hamadryas baboon, Molly, in Qatar. A long-distance match was arranged, with Emirates providing transportation to London's Heathrow Airport.

After clearing quarantine, Molly moved to Cefn-Yr-Erw, spending the first day in her new permanent home in a cage next to Willie. The two primates got along well right from the beginning, with Molly joining Willie in his cage the next morning.

According to Graham and Jan Garen, directors of the sanctuary, the two baboons "are now inseparable and go everywhere together, spending lots of time grooming each other and enjoying each other's company."

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