The Elephant in the Room

The elephant in the room

Elephants are amazing. The largest land mammal, gregarious, highly social, intelligent, family animals that bond for life.

So how is it possible that there are over 40 living solitary, lonely, miserable lives in zoos and circuses across Europe?

A new short film The Elephant in the Room, based on Born Free’s recent report,  Innocent Prisoner, shines a spotlight on the betrayal of these forgotten animals who, according to the film’s narrator, Virginia McKenna, endure a living death.

Made on location in the UK, the US, Norway, Romania and Serbia; Tariq, Amanda, Matthew and Emma – the team from the University of Hertfordshire that wrote, directed, produced and filmed The Elephant in the Room – indelibly captured the miserable lives that solitary captive elephants endure, distilling it into a 13 minute film of power and passion.

The experts they interviewed, Dr Joyce Poole, Dr Rob Atkinson, Chris Draper, Adam Roberts, Ed Stewart and Virginia herself, were unanimous in their condemnation the treatment of these elephants. ‘It would be like being forced to live your entire life in your bathroom’ said Dr Poole.

I sat and saw the film last night – twice. Each time I was close to tears. I have seen a lot in the last 30 years fighting for wildlife, but this situation is bad, really bad.

And the audience at Warner Brothers De Lane Lea cinema in London seemed equally stunned. Each one, in their own way, asked one over-riding question: “What can be done?”

The answer is at once complex and remarkably simple.  There is no place for solitary elephants to go. Nowhere that puts their welfare above the dictates of animal ‘exhibition’. Nowhere that will allow them to be elephants again.

We need your help to expose bad practices, stop captive suffering, end the keeping of elephants on their own (where feasible), end the import of elephants from the wild, and perhaps even begin the process of constructing a compassionate sanctuary for elephants in Europe.

We must end the capture of elephants from the wild for public display.

And we must end the largely futile zoo-based captive breeding programmes which will simply perpetuate the keeping of elephants in public display facilities – a discredited concept that is way past its sell-by date.

I firmly believe that no one who sees this unique film can fail to be deeply moved. But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself.

And if you agree with me, then spread the word, tell everyone you know.

These elephants will never go back to the wild. The very least we can do is to try and give them a life worth living!

Blogging off!


3 Responses to “The Elephant in the Room”

  1. Bethany Dale Says:

    A devastating, heartbreaking film but one which I believe everybody NEEDS to see. Like the need to breathe. People just aren’t educated about these sort of things despite living in the 21st Century! It’s sicking and I know that for a fact I will not be visiting zoos or aquariums ever again. Thank you for the work you do.

  2. Hannes Grobler Says:

    The whole of the elephant question is fraught with difficulty!!On the one hand there is the zoo problem and the heartless killing of animals basically for fun and for the making of ornaments in the East. On the other hand there is the fact that elephants need large land areas in order to roam free and do what elephants do. There are less and less areas around the world suitable for this and the population explosion in Africa has put pressure on human resources of all types. I think in the end African governments need to realise that if they do not get their act together and reserve suitable properly protected land for wild life a very important part of their income from tourism will be lost.
    In terms of animals in zoos this practice simply has to be abandoned as soon as possible. There is no place in the civilized world for depriving any animal of its freedom and condemning them to a cage for their whole lives!!

  3. Neville Wells Says:

    I agree with all the points made in this film and sincerely hope a European elephant sanctuary will come about.It was pitiful to see Annie the rescued Roberts circus elephant in such small quarters at Longleat recently.
    For some reason the sound was quieter in the Q&A session, following the film. Would BFF please post on its website a printed record of the Q&A as there were some excellent points, worth recording ?