Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Trading in elephants

Pole Pole London Zoo
Pole Pole was caught from the wild in Kenya and given as a diplomatic gift to London Zoo

It is illegal under CITES to commercially trade in wild elephants listed on Appendix I.  But zoos are classified as ‘non-commercial’ entities and can import wild-caught elephants and lock them up for life by claiming to be devoted to ‘education’ or ‘conservation’. 

Additionally elephants can be legally traded as ‘diplomatic gifts’ if this is supported by both countries’ governments.  This was how Pole Pole, the African elephant whose tragic story fuelled Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers to take action and set up Zoo Check in 1984, was shipped to London Zoo in 1969 and this loophole is still exploited today. 

Born Free is committed to fighting the barbaric live trade, which is ripping wild elephants from their natural habitat and condemning them to languish in captivity for the rest of their days. Instead Born Free supports positive alternatives such as the Elephant Transit Home in Sri Lanka, which cares for and returns orphaned elephants to the wild, who might otherwise be used as diplomatic gifts or sold to zoos.  Born Free’s campaign to end the capture and trading of wild elephants for zoos and circuses continues.

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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