Monday, November 06, 2006

Do elephants belong in zoos?

from W.
A few days ago a consignment of elephants arrived at Avalon Airport, 20 minutes away from Geelong, on their way to Melbourne zoo. Usually the only jumbos at Avalon are the kind the fly!

There has been much controversy about moving the elephants from Thailand. The pictures showing how they were transported from quarantine and of three of the new elephants at Sydney zoo. I really don't like animals in enclosures at all, but on the other hand our children and grandchildren delight in seeing the animals face to face. What do you think about elephants in zoos?

An article about the story repeated in several newspapers.

Thai elephants touch down
November 05, 2006

FOUR more elephants have arrived in Australia today, bound for local zoos after a controversial journey from Thailand.

The elephants touched down this morning in Sydney, where one will be transferred to the city's Taronga Zoo, before their chartered Russian plane heads to Avalon Airport near Melbourne, to drop off another three this afternoon for Melbourne Zoo.
The male elephant being taken to Taronga Zoo is called Gung – meaning "prawn" and will rejoin four females from his herd who arrived on Thursday.

The elephants are part of a group of eight that finally left Thailand in June, after court battles from animal rights protesters in Australia and overseas caused their journey to be delayed.

They have been held in quarantine on the Cocos Islands, about 2,800km north-west of Perth, for the past three months and are coming to Australia for a breeding program.
Zoos Victoria chief Laura Mumaw said in a statement that the three elephants going to Melbourne would help ensure the species' survival.

"We are very excited to be welcoming the three new members of our elephant family as part of the Australasian zoos' conservation breeding program," she said.

The three elephants heading to Melbourne – Dokkoon, Kulab and Num-Oi – are all females, who will form a social group with two other elephants already at the zoo.
The RSPCA has opposed the decision to bring the elephants to Australia because of concerns for their welfare.

RSPCA Victoria president Dr Hugh Wirth has said the weight of scientific evidence goes against the decision by Environment Minister Ian Campbell to allow their importation. "In allowing this importation to proceed, Minister Ian Campbell and the zoos involved have condemned these elephants to a life of suffering in captivity," Dr Wirth said recently.

Despite more than 100 years of keeping elephants captive, Australian zoos have never bred an Asian elephant."The elephant is a precious and endangered animal, not a tourist attraction," Dr Wirth said. "Taking elephants away from their home and family groups in Thailand, and sticking them in a zoo in Melbourne, is no way to contribute to elephant conservation."

But Mark Williams from Taronga Zoo scorned such suggestions. "That is absolute nonsense. They have been cared for the whole way. They have been looked after to world's best practice," Mr Williams said.

Another article:

THE arrival of four Asian elephants from Thailand has not been a walk in the park, but the animals took to the stage like pros in their first public appearance at Taronga Zoo yesterday. A few excited children and a large media throng gathered at the new enclosure, where the four female elephants celebrated their long-awaited arrival with a roll in the dirt.

The animals are among eight elephants that began the journey from Thailand in June and have been held in quarantine on the Cocos Islands. Two years of court battles, animal rights protests and long periods in quarantine delayed their arrival, but the elephants showed no signs of worry as they explored their new surroundings.

The new enclosure, part of a $25 million project to bring the elephants from Thailand, consists of several paddocks, an elephant barn and two wading pools, one with its own waterfall.

Ben Britton, then elephant manager, said their arrival could not have gone better. "They're doing extremely well," he said "It's very emotional seeing them all here for the first time. it's a really special moment after all this time."
A male elephant will arrive this weekend as part of Australia's first Asian elephants breeding program.


Blogger tooners said...

i don't really believe in zoos, unless they're done properly. i don't think elephants have enough space in zoos. they love wide open areas and need it to truly flourish. when we were in San Diego this past Feb., we went to the zoo there and the elephants had a tiny area... much too small. it made my heart sad... but then again, they had tiny enclosures for many big cats, which i totally disagree w/. but who am i in this huge world???

2:59 AM  
Blogger The Moody Minstrel said...

I think the big question is whether or not the elephants are healthy and happy. Animals that are raised in captivity have a bad habit of not doing real well when released into the wild despite all the well-meaning intentions.

Considering what mankind has been doing to the world, zoos may be some species' only hope for survival.

4:08 AM  
Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Thank you Tooners and Moody for your responses. I love elephants with their rough hide and rambling walk. I guess if zoos are willing to spend $50 million that the animals would be well cared for with spacious areas to roam, but I still prefer animals to be free. Birds too of course. I really really dislike caged birds.
and I'm passionate about tigers too.

2:44 PM  

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