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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Zoo Miami will be receiving two very large additions on Tuesday.

“Cita” and “Lisa” are two African elephants that will be arriving from the Virginia Zoo as part of an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) recommendation.  The AZA recommends accredited institutions make sure the herd includes three or more to support the complex and psychological health of the animals.

Lisa is 42 years old, was born in the wild, and arrived at the Virginia Zoo in 1976.  Cita is almost 48 years old and arrived at the Virginia Zoo from the Indianapolis Zoo in 2005.  Following a quarantine period, they will be joining Zoo Miami’s resident African females, Peggy and Mabel, both of whom are 40 years old.  All of these females are beyond their reproductive ages and will not be part of any breeding program.

Though it was extremely difficult for the staff at the Virginia Zoo, the decision to move the elephants to Zoo Miami was driven by what was best for the elephants.  Zoo Miami is the only zoo in the continental United States that is located in a sub-tropical climate where the elephants can remain outdoors year-round while enjoying the spacious exhibits that have gone through recent renovations.

It was these factors, along with the extraordinary care the elephants receive at Zoo Miami, that helped Virginia Zoo officials to choose Zoo Miami.

“We care for all animals at the Zoo and Cita and Lisa are especially loved.  Nothing is more important to us than their welfare,” said the Virginia Zoo Executive Director. “The combination of compassionate care, the science of elephant studies, and the expertise of the elephant community show us that Zoo Miami is the best choice for our girls.”

South Florida, with its mild climate and abundant sunshine, offers the ideal retirement location for these elephants as they approach the sunset of their lives.  In a release, Zoo Miami said it’s “committed to providing these “Golden Girls” with the best possible environment that will allow them to live out the rest of their lives in comfort and with dignity.”

Cita and Lisa left the Virginia Zoo at approximately 11:30 a.m. Monday morning and are expected to arrive at Zoo Miami Tuesday morning before noon.

The pair is set to make their public debut on May 20.

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