Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

No More Elephants in India's Zoos

1 December 2009

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

While the Western Zoos Dither, India Condemns Captivity in Zoos as Causing Unacceptable ‘Trauma’.

The Born Free Foundation joins the global animal welfare and conservation community in welcoming plans by the Government of India to end the keeping of elephants in zoos, and in requesting clarification on whether the decision applies to circuses.

The following statement has been endorsed by a wide range of groups and experts worldwide, as including the Born Free Foundation, PETA, the RSPCA and WSPA - all united in their concern for elephants in captivity and their praise for the Indian Government:

It has been confirmed that the Central Zoo Authority, the Government agency responsible for India's zoos, has recognised that zoos cannot provide a suitable environment for elephants and has taken the momentous step to order, through a CZA Directive, the relocation of all elephants in zoos in India to sanctuaries, national parks and reserves. The decision of the CZA reflects the growing concern expressed by many citizens, animal welfare groups and elephant experts* about the inadequacy of the zoo environment for elephants.

The Directive will have a significant and potentially positive impact on up to 150 elephants currently in Indian zoos.

Provided that certain safeguards and animal welfare measures can be guaranteed, we* welcome the decision of the CZA. Further, we call on the Indian Government to extend the decision to include elephants in circuses, which are also unable to provide a suitable environment for such complex, social and wide-ranging animals, and call upon governments in other countries to follow India’s example and end confinement of elephants in zoos and circuses.

Importantly, the CZA also confirms that there is little or no benefit to the in situ conservation of wild elephants derived from keeping elephants in zoos and the like.

Will Travers, CEO of the Born Free Foundation said: “India has already demonstrated its commitment to animal welfare by banning the use of big cats, bears and primates in circuses, for example. This is unexpected yet enormously welcome further progress –  clear leadership from the  Government of India, a country with nearly 30,000 wild elephants -  that this species does not belong in zoos. Frankly, it puts countries like the UK and the USA that continue to allow the exploitation of elephants in both zoos and circuses, to shame.

Born Free has written to the Indian Government to offer assistance to ensure that all the options for relocation can guarantee the welfare of the elephants by fully meeting their physical, social and psychological needs, without impacting the ecology of the relocation site.


*Current signatories:

Advocates for Animals (UK)

Ambiente e Fauna (Italy)

Amboseli Trust for Elephants (Kenya and USA)

Animal Defenders International (UK)

Animal Public e.V. (Germany)

Animal Rights Africa (South Africa)

Animals Asia Foundation (Hong Kong)

Animals Australia (Australia)

Bombay Natural History Society (India)

Born Free Foundation (UK)

Born Free USA (USA)

Dr. Gay Bradshaw, The Kerulos Center (USA)

CAPS - The Captive Animals' Protection Society (UK)

Captive Animal Welfare Finland (Finland)

Care for the Wild International (UK)

CAT - Conservation Action Trust (India)

CATCA - Campaigns Against the Cruelty To Animals (Canada)

Circus Watch Ireland (Ireland)

CMEPS - Canadian Marine Environment Protection Society (Canada)

Co-Habitat (UK)

Coalition for No Whales in Captivity (Canada)

EIA - Environmental Investigation Agency (UK)

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee (USA)

ESPA - Estonian Society for the Protection of Animals (Estonia)

FAADA - Fundación para la Adopción, Apadrinamiento y Defensa de los Animales (Spain)

Friends of the Elephant (Netherlands)

David Hancocks, Zoo planner, designer, and former Zoo Director (Australia and USA)

HSI - Humane Society International (Australia)

HSI - Humane Society International (International)

HSUS - Humane Society of the United States (USA)

IDA - In Defense of Animals (USA)

International Animal Rescue (UK)

IPPL - International Primate Protection League (USA)

Deepani Jayantha, Veterinarian (Sri Lanka)

Lisa Kane, JD (USA)

Prof. Phyllis Lee, University of Stirling (UK)

Libera! (Spain)

Lifeforce Charitable Trust (India and UK)

Dr. Keith Lindsay, Amboseli Elephant Research Project (Kenya) 

Amy Mayers, Communications Consultant (USA)

NAPA - Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance (Norway)

NCSA - Nature Conservation Society Amravati (India)

NSPCA - National Council of SPCAs (South Africa)

OceanCare (Switzerland)

Österreichischer Tierschutzverein (Austria)

PAWS - Performing Animal Welfare Society (USA)

PETA - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (USA)

Dr. Joyce Poole, ElephantVoices (Norway and Kenya)

ProFauna Indonesia (Indonesia)

Ian Redmond OBE, African Ele-Fund and co-founder, EleFriends (UK)

Dr. Mel Richardson, Veterinarian (USA)

RSPCA - Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (UK)

SAEN - Stop Animal Exploitation Now! (USA)

Satpuda Foundation (India)

Peter Stroud, Zoological Consultant (Australia)

Betsy Swart, Amboseli Elephant Research Project (Kenya) 

TRACT - Tiger Research and Conservation Trust (India)

Wild Futures (UK)

Wildlife SOS (India)

Chris Wold, Lewis & Clark Law School (USA)

WSPA - World Society for the Protection of Animals (International)

WTI - Wildlife Trust of India (India)

ZNSPCA - Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Zimbabwe)

Zoocheck Canada (Canada)

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

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