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Auckland Zoo makes difficult decision to rehome its two elephants

Auckland Zoo is rehoming its two popular Asian elephants, Burma and Anjalee, after deciding they won't have the long-term future they need.

Auckland Zoo's Asian elephants Burma and Anjalee. Source: Supplied

Burma has been at the zoo for 30 years, while Anjalee arrived in 2015.

Today Auckland Zoo announced the two female elephants will be moved to a new home after efforts to establish a family herd fell flat.

"I think we've all heard the phrase that 'the right decision is often the hardest one to make' many, many times before, but I've never really felt it to the extent that I do today," zoo director Kevin Buley says.

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Auckland Zoo celebrates Anjalee the elephants 9th Birthday. Source: 1 NEWS

"Our elephant team is truly exceptional in the level of skill, dedication and care that they provide, which is why this decision has been so much more difficult to take.

"Over many decades, we are so proud that elephants here at Auckland Zoo have inspired so many millions of people to care more about wildlife and the world around them, and to be part of our efforts to help Asian elephants and other threatened wildlife in the wild."

Auckland Zoo's Asian elephant Burma. Source: Supplied

Buley says attempts to grow the herd have failed.

A third elephant was supposed to arrive from the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage shortly after Anjalee, but she remains in Sri Lanka.

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Asian elephant Anjalee, which was flown from Sri Lanka earlier this year, turned nine today. Source: 1 NEWS

Leading elephant experts attempted artificial insemination with Anjalee five times over a two-year period, to no avail.

If she doesn't breed soon, she faces long-term reproductive issues, Kevin says.

Auckland Zoo's Asian elephants Burma and Anjalee. Source: Supplied

"Having exhausted all current possibilities to breed her here at Auckland Zoo, we will now work to move her to another accredited zoo programme where she can live in a multi-generational family herd," he says.

"While the exciting future we hoped for them is no longer possible here at Auckland Zoo, Anjalee and Burma still have long and fulfilling lives ahead of them."

The zoo's elephant team will travel with them when they move and stay "as long as needed" to help settle them into their new home, Burley says.

Burma and Anjalee will likely be rehomed around the middle of next year and more information about their new home will be released once details are finalised.

Auckland Zoo has had elephants since 1923, around six months after it opened.