Elephant takes flight from Melbourne to US

Callum Godde and Michael Fowler

How do you move a three-tonne Australian elephant to the other side of the world in less than 24 hours?

That was the elephant-size problem facing Melbourne Zoo staff as they tried to get wannabe stud Ongard across the Pacific for a hot date.

The seven-year-old Asian elephant became the first of his kind to take flight out of Australia after the Victorian zoo "flawlessly" executed a two-year, million-dollar move to Miami, Florida.

"This is the first elephant to ever leave the continent of Australia," the zoo's Dominic Moss told reporters on Wednesday.

"We had to sort of pave the way with logistics and figure it out ... because nobody had ever done it before (and) we didn't have a manual."

Ongard's journey of a lifetime started on Monday at 3.30am, with keepers walking him into a shipping container that was then loaded onto a truck.

"It all went flawlessly to plan and so we were bang on time," Mr Moss said.

"We had the fastest ever drive to Tullamarine Airport ... because Victoria Police synchronised all of the traffic lights for us.

"Tullamarine in 15 to 20 minutes is possible ... if you're an elephant."

After a chartered flight on a specially equipped jet, Ongard arrived to much fanfare at Miami Zoo about 2.30am on Tuesday (AEST).

"He's now met one of the female Asian elephants at Miami Zoo and, by all accounts, they're getting on," Mr Moss said.

Ongard, the first male calf born at Melbourne Zoo, was forced to travel abroad to mate to ensure genetic diversity.

An estimated $US500,000 was spent on transportation and almost as much on renovating the Miami Zoo elephant enclosure.

The new arrival's potential as the region's most genetically viable breeding bull would serve him well, Moss said.

"He'll rock it. Those females in America can't wait to get a piece of him," he said.