North Korea is paying $10,000 for each of the two young elephants it is getting from Zimbabwe in what had been dubbed a "Noah's Ark" wildlife gift, according to reports from Zimbabwe’s capital on Wednesday.
Vitallis Chadenga, Zimbabwe’s parks chief, said the elephants and other animals are being shipped from Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park to North Korea as part of a simple business transaction and are not a gift from President Robert Mugabe to North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, according to a posting on Earth Times.
Conservationists have criticized the shipment of the animals, which is said to include rhinos, cheetahs and lions as well as the 18-month-old elephants. The conservationists say that even if the animals survive the 7,000-mile journey from Harare to Pyongyang, they are unlikely to fare well in North Korea’s climate or what they call its “substandard” zoos.
But Chadenga said Zimbabwean officials have determined the animals are not being put in danger by the shipment.
“From our professional judgment, these people have the capacity to handle these animals," he told a news conference in Harare, according to the Earth Times report.
But at least one giraffe in an early shipment of animals has died, according to a Radio Australia report.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s Eyewitness News website reported that Zimbabwe is considering animal sales to at least five other countries.