Princess saves doomed elephants

Pretoria - Two circus elephants who were threatened with euthanasia in France, arrived in their new luxury home near the Cote d'Azur on Friday after being taken in by Princess Stephanie of Monaco, French media reported.

Baby, 42, and Nepal, 43, left the park in Lyon where they had spent the past 14 years for a new life in the hills above Monaco on Thursday.

Princess Stephanie of Monaco pets an elephant during preparations for the Monte Carlo International Circus Festival. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard. Credit: REUTERS

The two pachyderms made the 500-kilometre road trip to the Monaco royal family's estate in Roc Agel in two giant air-conditioned containers.

Reporters were kept at a distance as the containers were lifted by crane onto a truck in Lyon, and as they arrived in the south of France early Friday.

Video images posted by Nice Matin paper showed them taking in their new surroundings after being released from the containers at dawn.

Their new home is a 3 500-square-metre park with a big wooden shelter and a pool for splashing about, according to local media.

Their trek south marks the epilogue to an emotional campaign to save the elephants after authorities in Lyon last year ordered they be euthanized as suspected tuberculosis carriers.

Animal rights activists, led by former actress Brigitte Bardot and the elephants' owner, Pinder circus, fought the decision. Bardot even threatened to emigrate if the order was executed.

In May, a Lyon court finally lifted their death sentence, by which time Princess Stephanie had stepped in with the offer of a new home.

Photographs showed the 48-year-old royal personally supervising the relocation of her new charges. - Sapa-dpa