A Dutch zoo said Wednesday it was looking to give away four outcast elephants after a power clash of jumbo proportions forced the park to split up the herd.

The drama at the Noorder Animal Park in the northeastern town of Emmen unfolded after the herd's undisputed matriarch died in June leading to a massive power struggle, zoo biologist Webren Landman said.

"They started pushing each other. They trumpeted loudly and flapped their ears. The situation became unbearable," Landman told AFP.

Park rangers decided to separate the two fighting factions of the 12-strong Asian elephant herd, but this meant the beasts were spending too much time indoors.

"We need a quick solution to the problem," their keeper Krista Nijstad told the daily Algemeen Dagblad.

The park is now looking for other zoos to take on four of the elephants -- on offer for free -- while the other eight will remain.