Photo courtesy of Animals Asia
Stop Wild Elephant Exports To Zoos!
The news started to slowly leak out in late December: Zimbabwe had taken four baby elephants from their families in the wild and exported them to zoos in China. Reportedly, another 14 calves awaited the same fate. Then came even worse news. One of the calves in China had died. Photos taken by Animals Asia (above) showed a pathetic surviving calf standing in a freezing concrete cell alone. A worldwide uproar ensued, with the exports roundly condemned. Zimbabwe responded by sending five of the calves still held in the country to rehabilitation at one of the country's national parks. But the story doesn't end there...
New reports reveal that Zimbabwe may be sending more elephant calves to Chinese zoos to complete the order that China paid for. And, unbelievably, there are orders for as many as 48 more calves from countries around the world, including France, Ukraine, and even the United States.
Elephants' profound social bonds make the capture and separation of calves from their mothers enormously traumatic for them and their families. In the wild, calves never stray far from their protective mothers. Familial ties are so strong that females remain with their mothers for life; males stay with the family until their teens.
For those calves who survive the ordeal of being captured and transported to China, they will be confined in zoo conditions that utterly fail to address their physical, psychological and social needs, ensuring a lifetime of despair and suffering that ends in premature death.
It's time to stop Zimbabwe from capturing and exporting more elephants to a grim life in zoos, no matter where those zoos may be located. In the wild, elephants spend their long lives in large, socially-rich networks and enjoy complex natural environments. Capturing them from the wild and sending them to a life in captivity is simply wrong.
Worldwide public opinion stopped Zimbabwe once before in 2010, when it planned to sell elephant calves and other wildlife to a zoo in North Korea. You can make a difference by taking a moment to send a polite personal note to:
Mr. Edson Chidziya, Acting Director of National Parks, Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority: firstname.lastname@example.org
His Excellency Mr. Francis Nhema, Minister of Environment, Ministry of Environment & Natural Resources: email@example.com
I am deeply disturbed by the news that Zimbabwe has captured elephant calves from the wild and transported them to zoos in China. One calf has already died, yet more calves may be sent to even more zoos.
Please do not underestimate the impact these captures will have on world opinion, which condemns the traumatic capture and separation of young elephants from their families to be sent to a lifetime of captivity in another country.
People around the globe care deeply about elephants and will be closely watching this situation. Please show the world that Zimbabwe cares about preserving and protecting its wildlife heritage by putting a halt to the export of any more elephant calves.
(please include your name, city and state, and country)