Elephants never forget: and neither do we

Dear All,

It’s déjà-vu.

A few years ago four little elephants were ripped away from their families and sent to zoos in China.

The elephants came from Zimbabwe.

A Zimbabwe official, part of the Department responsible for issuing the export permits, had been to China to make sure the zoos were an ‘appropriate and acceptable’ destination – the language attached to the international regulations governing live exports of elephants form Zimbabwe.

Apparently they were – not withstanding that the zoos were afflicted by months of sub-zero temperatures (sometime as low as -20c), offered barren environments and lacked companion animals.

Today, only one of those 4 elephants survives. Three are dead, and the one survivor who is in Taiyuan Zoo in northern China, is in a very poor physical and psychological state, according to expert analysis of videos and photographs.

And today, more elephants are in the pipeline, destined to be exported from Zimbabwe, some say to zoos in China, some say to the United Arab Emirates.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that so far over 30 young elephants have been caught, alongside several lion cubs and sable antelope, and are currently being held in a compound in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.

Whatever the actual number, one thing seems certain; These little elephants, who have been forcibly separated from their families, are destined for lives of misery and suffering – and probably short lives at that. And their families? Left to grieve and wonder and lament and cry for loved ones they have lost.

Can it still be possible that elephants are being caught from the wild, shipped around the world to be put on show, and be displayed for public entertainment?

It has to stop. We have to come to our senses. We have to stop treating sentient creatures as if they were little more than tins and boxes to be traded and commodified and trashed and disposed of at will – just because we can. We have to stop the suffering and the inhumanity of it all. We have to say, enough is enough!

Blogging off


40 Responses to “Elephants never forget: and neither do we”

  1. Gill Gilbey Says:

    Dear Will,
    I feel very emotional about these Baby elephants especially after visiting Amboseli and seeing mothers and babies together in the wild.My Poem: The Baby Elephants of Zimbabwe.

    I will pray for them tonight,
    I shall pray for them tonight.
    Stolen from their mothers,They must be scared and confused.
    Destined for cold China,They will not last for long.

    But Icarus is still falling,and nobody sees,
    Sees them Woe begone,
    Soon to be gone,Long gone.
    The Baby Elephants of Zimbabwe,
    God Bless Them, Everyone.

    I hope they can be saved and someone will be able to influence those concerned to return them to their mothers and keep them in Africa where they belong.

  2. kevin Says:

    it is sad but china has money which this country needs! people still shoot these creatures as big game for money! this will never stop as money is the only thing that matters to third world countries!!

  3. Arda van Dongen Says:

    maybe prince William should travel to Zimbabwe instead of the (easy choice) US

  4. Rita Byrne Says:

    Please please leave these intelligent, sentient beings in their natural home with their family. I will never pay to see animals in captivity, i.e a zoo – cruel, sad and degrading for the poor animals.

  5. Steven Macdougall Says:

    I have followed the work of Born Free since my Grandparents took me to the cinema to see the original film when it was released.You have made such a difference in helping to save these beautiful and important wild animals from extinction.It seems that our world is totally driven by money and greed.Well I am sick of it,attitudes need to change fast, but how do you go about changing HUMAN NATURE? Sometimes I am so ashamed to be part of the human race when I see how we treat Animals and indeed each other.Education is important but I fear there could be nothing left alive by this time.Without PEOPLE like you WILL and everyone at Born Free,this will happen a lot sooner.If that happens then we as caretakers on this Planet will have failed terribly.

  6. Miranda Jordan Says:

    I am not sure what can be done at this stage but surely an international protest outside the Embassies of both Zimbabwe and .China showing the conditions awaiting these poor Elephants may put a stop to it

  7. shawna obrien Says:

    I find this truly disheartening. With all that is going on all around us, people still feel the need to rip these animals away from their families these animals cannot say NO I WON’T GO! we need to be their voice. We need to say. ENOUGH! I know that I would not like to be torn apart from my family. In turn would these people like theses things done to them ….or their children? Enough exploitation of animals’

  8. shawna obrien Says:

    If we don’t speak for the animals, who will? Enough exploitation! Enough killing for sport! ENOUGH!

  9. Mary-Anne Halsall Says:

    This is absolutely shocking that these 30 baby-elephants are now awaiting their sad fate and being shipped off to China….Im disgusted with The Zimbabwe Government that they are in the presence of transporting these 30 baby elephants which have been taken from their Nursing Mothers…They are far too young to be away from their Nursing Mothers and their families…This is very emotional for all of them and all concerned….Elephants need space to roam and young elephants, torn from their families, confined to captive environments with no prospect of a life back in the wild suffer severe stress affecting their physical and psychological development and often resulting in death.

  10. Toortie Reckers Says:

    Enough is enough! True, it most be forbidden to held wild animals in zoo’s, circus entertaiments etc. Leave them alone. Let them in their naturel habbitat.
    Hands off from animals!
    Sorry if my english is not so perfect, I live in Holland. But I follow the animals!

  11. hanne szopinski Says:

    free them

  12. Catherine Preh Says:

    please please put a stop to this dreadful Situation And let the Baby elephants be returned to their Families and nature. Schame on the authorities in Zimbawe there Must be otherways to put Money in their pockets

  13. clare leigh Says:

    Leave them where they belong plenty of captive animals now use them for breeding to supply other zoos and wildlife parks. Also make sure living conditions are suitable and proper enclosures can be provided with companions for social animals

  14. Sissi Says:


  15. Catherine Whitrow Says:

    Can we stop this ? It’s heart breaking .

  16. Tina Iben Hansen Says:

    We are in 2014 and we know better than in 1420 ! Enough is enough!!!

  17. Evelyn Ford Says:

    Please do not allow these animals to be taken away from their families and natural habitat where their lives will be a living Hell until they die

  18. Deborah San Gabriel Says:

    Please free them.

    Thank you

  19. Anne Hunt Says:

    How much is an animals life worth, nothing as far as some Government Officials are concerned. This is appalling and very sad to hear that this is going on. Imagine if the tables were turned on us, how would these officials feel then, when it was their babies ripped away from them, only to be turned into a Public Spectacle where people will come and pay to watch them perform. What have humans become when this is tolerated. this is inhumane and catastrophic for the animal kingdom.

  20. Alice Ansfield Says:

    Hi – Yes – we’ve seen this info posted for weeks, with no or little mention of anyone doing anything to try to stop this and negotiate the return of the animals to their families…. We need a part 2 on this! Thanks!

  21. Anna Spencer Says:

    Well said, Will Travers!

    How can any zoo be an appropriate and acceptable destination? China’s zoos, with sub-zero temperatures, a barren environment, lack of stimulation, and a life of solitude, are not conducive to animal mental health.

    No zoo is an appropriate or acceptable destination. To be condemned to life of misery, without freedom, is not morally acceptable. Why does society need zoos at all? With the proliferation of information about animals on the internet, together with numerous videos, it is about time that zoos were phased out altogether! If humans were placed in a zoo for a weekend, with no company and nothing to do, they would surely show the same stress symptoms as the animals.

    I wish you all the best in your new role in Born Free and hope that you all have a blessed Christmas.

  22. Laura Celino Says:

    Horrific and absolutely unnecessary. Words can’t describe my revulsion at this. How many animals have to be tormented in captivity for vile human entertainment before something is done to stop animal trafficking. Let’s hope these animals are saved before this goes any further

  23. Laura Celino Says:

    Horrific and absolutely unnecessary. Words can’t describe my revulsion at this. How many animals have to be tormented in captivity for vile human entertainment before something is done to stop animal trafficking. Let’s hope these animals are saved before this goes any further

  24. Phil Elsey Says:

    This has left me sick to the core. THIS HAS TO STOP!

  25. Melanie Duncan Says:

    Is this a petition and if so, how do I submit it please! I am deplored like many thousands globally at Zimbabwe’s stance on this vile transportation. We who care and are compassionate about wildlife and in particular the cruelty inflicted upon these elephants and the lack of success demonstrated by only one surviving in China from a previous shipment – are angry and it must be stopped. Baby elephants are milk and mother dependent for years and need their herds (families). Why is Zimbabwe so ignorant of these facts? Obviously the country doesn’t care and prefers the cash required for the country that has been decimated. Yes, we have to say “enough is enough!” but who are we getting this through to? I am an avid supporter and campaigner for African wildlife and elephants globally plus rhinos – what can we do please? I don’t see a petition here – please advise me. Thank you.
    Yours sincerely,
    Melanie Duncan

  26. Elaine Garnett Says:

    Can you please leave the African wild life alone, they belong to Africa!!!!! There are already far too many being killed by poachers, never mind the animals we are send to countries like China!!!! They will only die there, so leave them alone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. Sally Reader Says:

    You are absolutely right and thank you SO much for the work you are doing and raising awareness among people like myself. I’ve started to follow the work of your Foundation this year and will do whatever I can to help. Enough is Enough and if enough of us start to speak up and do whatever we can , things will change . Thank you for your Inspiration

  28. Cindy Wines Says:

    These poor poor babies will die for loneliness, fear, depression, This is so so horrible. How can they do this? Of the 4 babies,only 1 is alive. When they die, they feed them to the villagers. It is so so sad. The families are killed or traumatized when these babies are taken. This should be against the law!!

  29. lina nicolia Says:

    To exploit innocent and endangered wildlife is a crime no one can comprehend. It will hunt the guilty humans who have tortured, separated and killed these animals, for their greed. There is a HIGHER COURT where these humans get to pay for their crimes, as it does not seem to be, in our present time. Shame on us.

  30. Kathy Dancy Says:

    This is reprehensible and morally depraved. All animals deserve dignity and deserve to live out their days in their natural habitat. This is wonton destruction of a species which is on the brink of extinction. This must stop and now.

  31. liu wai ling Says:

    Please stop and ban these cruelty ways for animals , 30 young elephants have been caught , alongside several lions cubs and stable antelope and are currently being held in compound in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. one things seems certain , These little elephants who has been forcibly separated from their family , are destined for lives of misery and suffering , and probably short lives at that , and their families , left to grieve and wonder and lament and city for loved once they have lost , please stop it now , Thank you

  32. Sadaf Says:


  33. karen black Says:

    Please stop this! Why do you government ministers think you can do what you like??? Do you not have a heart condemning this animals to hell in China. They have already been traumatized ripped away from their mothers. Stop abusing animals. Send them back to their Mums. These animals belong in Zimbabwe not in a cage. All for money. Greedy, sick heartless monsters…..

  34. Celeste Says:

    These baby elephants must be returned to their mothers and stay in Africa. They NEED their mothers. Elephants are highly complex, valuable animals and the utmost care must be taken of them physically and emotionally. This is not a game. They are threatened and endangered.

  35. Miss Turner Says:

    Please STOP THIS! Now before it’s too late! More Stronger Penalties for those who dare carry out such despicable acts of cruelty to these Beautiful Animals… we should LOCK UP those who do this and throw away the keys.

  36. Connie Keys Says:

    So terribly sad can’t believe the ignorance but the corruption by this government is unsurpassed
    And it’s a case of SHOW ME THE MONEY

  37. Debbie Garrod Says:

    What the hell is wrong with these people! These are government officials, supposedly educated, and should be compassionate people if they are making decisions for people of the country. Who the hell elected such cruel people to be their “voice”. Surely something can be done by various governments – is there no compassion anywhere – do they not realise that if they stopped being so greedy, maybe God would bless their country. Ignorant bastards!!

  38. Cry Green Says:

    Africa is dying, where tourists flocked to see the beautiful wildlife, will soon be empty plains – then they will cry and expect the world to feed them, clothe them. They had the means to make Africa great, they are depleting the very thing that keeps them alive!! AFrica seems to be governed by greed and corruption and this will be their downfall! They don’t see that they are wiping out entire species of beautiful animals! So sad. Rhodesia was such a beautiful, bounteous country, turned into a lawless state!!

  39. john robertson Says:

    We do nothing at our peril. We are supposed to be human, (humanist). Do we therefore not emphasise? No, we are greedy. This will be our downfall. If we don’t protect our wildlife, we cannot protect ourselves. It is not rocket-science!

  40. Mina Nakhai Says:

    Human beings have many vices and very few virtues. One of our virtues is that many of us have a selfless commitment to helping animals like the elephant to survive in the wild and are concerned for their welfare in captivity. Unfortunately there will always be senseless and greedy people in the world who, if allowed to do so unchecked, will destroy everything for the rest of us.