1 December 2009
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.
Ambiente e Fauna (Italy)
Born Free Foundation (UK)
Dr. Gay Bradshaw, The Kerulos Center (USA)
Captive Animal Welfare Finland (Finland)
Circus Watch Ireland (Ireland)
David Hancocks, Zoo planner, designer, and former Zoo Director (Australia and USA)
Deepani Jayantha, Veterinarian (Sri Lanka)
Lisa Kane, JD (USA)
Prof. Phyllis Lee, University of Stirling (UK)
Lifeforce Charitable Trust (India and UK)
Dr. Keith Lindsay, Amboseli Elephant Research Project (Kenya)
Amy Mayers, Communications Consultant (USA)
Dr. Joyce Poole, ElephantVoices (Norway and Kenya)
Ian Redmond OBE, African Ele-Fund and co-founder, EleFriends (UK)
Dr. Mel Richardson, Veterinarian (USA)
Peter Stroud, Zoological Consultant (Australia)
Betsy Swart, Amboseli Elephant Research Project (Kenya)
TRACT - Tiger Research and Conservation Trust (India)
Chris Wold, Lewis & Clark Law School (USA)
ZNSPCA - Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Zimbabwe)