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Firefighters lift Maggie the elephant

Firefighters had to use straps and a winch to lift Alaska's only elephant, 7,500-pound Maggie, after she had been lying down for several hours at a zoo.

The compressed weight of the 25-year-old African elephant's bulk could have caused breathing and other problems, or even killed her, officials at the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage said. She had lain down for 10 to 19 hours and was lifted Sunday.

The situation renewed calls for the animal to be transferred to a warmer climate where she can exercise more and be around other elephants.

"It's time to get her out of Alaska," veterinarian Elliot Katz, president of the California-based group In Defense of Animals, said Monday. "The longer the wait, the more this unnatural and abusive environment will cause severe damage to her feet and joints, until it becomes irreversible."

Maggie might have had colic, which could have weakened her, according to zoo officials, who said Monday the elephant seems fine, is walking around and is eating normally. Blood tests will determine what led to the situation, said zoo director Pat Lampi.

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