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Wednesday, 14 August, 2002, 17:04 GMT 18:04 UK
Croatia bans elephant gift
Elephants in Sri Lanka
The war-hit Croatian zoo was missing an elephant
Croatia has refused to accept two baby elephants donated to one of its zoos by Sri Lanka because of fears of foot-and-mouth disease.

The Croatian Agriculture Ministry refused to let in the animals, who were due to arrive in the Osijek city zoo, saying that Sri Lanka was on its list of countries at risk of the livestock disease.

Deputy Minister Andjelko Gaspar told the HINA news agency that it was the "final decision considering the fact that there were veterinary and health obstacles".

The Osijek zoo lost its only elephant during the 1991-95 war, when the city was badly damaged.

Elephants' odyssey

The two baby elephants were originally given by the Sri Lankan Government to Japan.

But a Japanese journalist who visited Osijek then started campaigning to donate the animals to Croatia.

Japanese children had even collected their pocket money to pay for the animal's airlift to Croatia.

A documentary on the elephants' odyssey was to have been made by US actor Robin Williams but the project may now have to be cancelled.

See also:

15 Jan 01 | South Asia
25 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
13 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
13 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
06 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
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