Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Sad news at Knowsley

17 July 2015

Categories: Elephants Campaign News, Homepage News, Zoo Check Campaign News

The Born Free Foundation is saddened to hear of the recent death of an elephant at Knowsley Safari Park, Merseyside.

Reports suggest that the 29 year old female named Shaba had to be put down as a result of deteriorating arthritis. Arthritis, foot and joint problems are common physical ailments in captive elephants, often resulting from a combination of lack of exercise, hard, unnatural substrates and being overweight: a 2008 study concerning the welfare of zoo elephants in the UK found that 80% of elephants had foot problems, while 23% had an obvious limp or were severely lame.

What is particularly tragic is that Shaba is reported to have been treated for arthritis since she was around 23 years old: an age when an African elephant in the wild would be coming into her prime.

Shaba's death follows the recent deaths of two other elephants from Knowsley Safari Park. Nissim, a 19 year old bull elephant collapsed in June 2014 – reports indicate that the results of the post mortem were inconclusive. This was followed by the death of Buta, a 30 year old female elephant in May this year. At the time of her death, Buta was being temporarily housed at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm, Somerset.

All three elephant have died prematurely, compared to their counterparts in the wild: African elephants in Kenya have an average lifespan of around 56 years. Yet more evidence, as if it were needed, that elephants are simply not suited to a captive environment.

Born Free continues to call for the phasing out of the keeping of elephants in zoos and a ban on the use of elephants and other wild animals in circuses.  With the increasing threat to wild elephant populations, we must do all we can to protect them in their natural habitat, rather than subjecting them to a short life of suffering in captivity.

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

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