The Oregon Zoo erased all doubt about Lily the elephant's current and future home.
In an agreement finalized Friday, the zoo assumed legal ownership of its new baby elephant.
Controversy erupted in December when news surfaced that the zoo did not own Rose-Tu's new calf.
A contract showed elephant rental company Have Trunk Will Travel had ownership of the second, fourth and six calves fathered by the baby elephant's father, Tusko. That meant the baby elephant actually belonged to Have Trunk Will Travel.
Though the zoo downplayed the arrangement, the elephant rental company could have terminated its agreement with the zoo as long as they gave the zoo 60 days notice.
"Lily's living arrangements were never in question," said Kim Smith, zoo director. "But this makes it official: Lily will live her life with her family herd, the way elephants should."
Smith said the zoo also will retain Tusko, the 13,000-pound bull elephant who sired both Lily and Samudra and has been here on a breeding loan since 2005.
The zoo arranged to acquire both elephants for $400,000 and voided its loan agreement with Have Trunk Will Travel. The agreement, the zoo says, puts to rest any speculation that Tusko's future offspring might not belong to the zoo.
The zoo says the purchase was funded entirely by the Oregon Zoo Foundation, the private nonprofit fundraising arm of the zoo, and did not involve public monies.
Lily's status was secured Friday with a payment for half the total purchase amount, while the transaction involving Tusko is complete pending a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (a requirement since Tusko was born outside the country, the zoo says).
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