When is a rescue not a rescue?

Dear Friends of Wildlife

When is a rescue not a rescue?

Having just taken part in the rescue of Kebri, the juvenile lion from a remote part of Ethiopia (who is now safely at Ensessakotteh, Born Free’s centre, just outside Addis Ababa), I think it is safe to say that Born Free knows a thing or two about rescues.

So when we heard that a zoo in Mexico had ‘rescued’ nine juvenile African elephants faced with certain death in Namibia, we thought we understood what was going on.

But a recent statement by the Namibian authorities tells a different story. Apparently these elephants were not going to be killed, had not been orphaned and were sold to the zoo in Mexico as part of a straight-forward financial transaction! The Mexican zoo, Africam Safari Zoo, is a member of the American Zoo Association (AZA) and it is my understanding that there is little to prevent some or all of these animals being moved to AZA zoos in the USA, at some time in the future.

So what was this ‘rescue’ really all about?

Well, it’s not because these elephants would otherwise have been killed and surely not because Namibia had no space for them (Namibia has less than 3 million people and is bigger than Kenya). And it’s surely not because Namibia needs the money (it is one of the wealthiest countries in Africa based on per capita income).

So is it because the number of African elephant calves born in zoos in the USA does not replace the number of African elephants that die in those same zoos? Is it because without an injection of new blood the captive African elephant population in the USA will evaporate over the next 20 to 30 years? And is it because directly importing wild-caught elephants into the USA is very difficult and Mexico might prove to be an easier staging-post?

As I say, when is a rescue not a rescue. You decide.

Blogging off.


4 Responses to “When is a rescue not a rescue?”

  1. Donna Mackenzie Says:

    You’re right Will, this is definitely NOT a rescue. It is a deliberate deception and a nightmare for the poor elephants. Clearly this Mexican zoo knows nothing about elephants nor cares for their welfare. I just despair at the lengths some zoos will go to in order to exploit animals. Please let us know who to write to so we can express our concern and disgust at this.

  2. Lori Marino Says:

    We see this same tactic in the marine mammal captivity industry. In the marine mammal domain “rescue” is the new “capture”. The AZA and WAZA utilize loopholes in wild animal trafficking to skirt around the regulations and procur animals from the wild. When is a rescue not a rescue? When it is done by the AZA!

  3. gill gilbey Says:

    Like Born Free I believe that elephants belong in the wild.I’m not sure if the USA has an understanding of this.doesn’t this come under “trafficking” of wild animals? surely Namibia does not “own” the elephants.

  4. Robert Joines Says:

    I agree with everything that has been said. Will, is there a e-mail address we can write to in order to express our concerns ?