Cuba's National Zoo will expand and assure the continuance of its collection of African animals with a donation of 23 species that will be shipped in mid-November from a forest reserve in Namibia to their new grassland habitat on the Caribbean island.

A specially chartered flight dubbed "Operation Noah's Ark 2" will land Nov. 14 in Havana with most of the 183 animals that comprise the Namibian government's donation, zoo directors and specialists said.

"We have created all the necessary conditions, guaranteeing food and medical supplies, in strict compliance with international regulations. We're ready to received the animals" to enlarge the collection, zoo director Miguel Luis Abud said.

The donation to the island zoo is a "sovereign decision, the result of our strong bonds of friendship, brotherhood and excellent relations," the commercial head of the Namibian Embassy in Cuba, Collin O'Brien Namalambo, said.

Since it was opened to the public in 1984, when the African fauna for exhibition arrived from Tanzania, the largest zoo in Cuba with its extension of 342 hectares (844 acres) has not until now received new specimens except by reproduction of the animals living in this Havana habitat, the experts said.

Antelopes, vultures, spotted and brown hyenas, lions, leopards, black-backed jackals, cheetahs, caracals, porcupines and bat-eared foxes will make up the first shipment of 131 animals of 20 species.

Remaining for a second shipment in March 2013 will be five elephants along with 10 rhinoceroses of both the black and white varieties. EFE