The Elephant Sanctuary of Austin plans to expand its elephant population in the coming weeks, officials announced Monday.
The new sanctuary will feature elephant breeding, transportation, educational programs and habitat development, said Travis Dickson, executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
The sanctuary will open at the end of April and is expected to hold up to 2,000 elephants, Dickson said.
The move comes after more than three years of negotiations and public backlash over a proposal to relocate some 200 elephants to an industrial park in southern Texas.
The announcement comes just days after Texas Gov.
Greg Abbott announced the state is moving forward with the relocation of more than 200 elephants from the San Antonio Zoo to an indoor facility in an effort to address overcrowding.
Last week, Abbott told the Associated Press the zoo would not relocate the elephants.
The state is now working with a private company to move the animals to an outdoor facility in the Houston area, according to the AP.
A state lawmaker who has been a vocal critic of the move said Monday the decision to relocate the animals was a step in the right direction.
“I think it’s a good first step,” said state Sen. Kevin Eltife.
“The fact that they are moving them is good news.
They’re in a good location.
We’re very hopeful.”