Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Tragedy in Sri Lanka

23 September 2015

Categories: Homepage News, Zoo Check Campaign News, Sri Lanka News

News reports indicate that a ten-month-old baby has been trampled to death by an elephant during a festival in Sri Lanka. Our thoughts are with the child’s parents.

It appears that a relative had attempted to carry the baby under the belly of the elephant as part of a regularly-performed ritual, in the belief that it would prevent the child from having nightmares. The elephant became startled and crushed the baby.

Chris Draper, Programmes Manager for Captive Wild Animals at Born Free said: “This tragedy arose from the mistaken belief that captive elephants are somehow different to their wild counterparts. Captive elephants, whether in zoos, circuses, festivals or kept at temples, are dangerous wild animals, who in many cases have been subjected to cruelty and abuse. The public deserve protection from such dangerous and unpredictable situations just as much as wild elephants deserve protection from capture for a life in captivity and captive elephants deserve greatly improved welfare.”

Interactions with captive elephants are common across the world, and particularly in Asia: shows in Thailand include elephants that give visitors a “massage” by placing a foot on a person’s back, while “elephant-assisted therapy” is promoted by some for people with disabilities; and elephants are commonly used as tourist photo props or to beg on the streets. All interactions with elephants are dangerous due to the unpredictable nature of these wild animals, with a number of incidents or deaths reported each year.          

Born Free continues to work hard to protect elephants in their natural habitat, to reintroduce orphaned elephants to the wild, and to develop improved standards for captive elephant care.

More information can be found here

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

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