Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Captive Elephant Welfare

A captive elephant chained on temple grounds
A captive elephant chained on temple grounds

Born Free believes that wild animals belong in the wild, and should not be kept in captivity except for unavoidable reasons. Elephants in particular, as large, intelligent, socially complex animals, can never be given an appropriate quality of life in captivity.

However, the practice of keeping elephants in captivity in Sri Lanka dates back many thousands of years, and is deeply integrated into national culture.  Even so, elephants have never been ‘domesticated’ in the sense of creating a separate race or breed that is self-sustaining in captivity – wild animals have always been involved in sustaining the captive population both for inseminating females and by taking calves from the wild for training.

Born Free believes that traditions can and do change, in the face of new information, new perspectives and new understandings of cultural identity. We hope that traditions which cause suffering to animals, wherever and whatever they may be, can change for the benefit of the affected animals. However, such changes must come from within the culture, rather than being imposed from outside.

Born Free therefore supports local groups and individuals seeking to improve the lives of elephants in captivity in Sri Lanka, and reduce the number of animals being kept in this way. At the same time, where international tourists visit elephants in captivity, we seek to improve awareness of international perspectives on this issue, including animal welfare principles as they are understood in tourists' home countries, and in the light of modern animal welfare science and ethical philosophy.

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

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