Elephants in Zoos? Enough is Enough, says Dame Joanna Lumley

On the 40th anniversary of Pole Pole’s death, Born Free releases powerful animation, voiced by Founder Patron Dame Joanna Lumley, and new petition calling for an Elephant-free UK. 

A split image with an animated elephant on the left and black and white photo of Pole Pole the elephant at London Zoo on the right

Today marks 40 years since the untimely death of Pole Pole, the young elephant whose tragic true story inspired the creation of Born Free.  

In memory of Pole Pole, and in honour of the 50 captive elephants living in the UK today, we’ve launched an emotive animation highlighting the suffering caused by the keeping of elephants in zoos, and are encouraging members of the public to sign our Elephant-Free UK petition. 

Narrated by Born Free Founder Patron, actor and campaigner, Dame Joanna Lumley, voiced by Kenyan actor and influencer, Foi Wambui and created by award-winning animator Andrew D Morgan, the film, ‘Enough Is Enough’, tells Pole Pole’s story, and highlights the continued unsuitability of captivity for elephants.  

In 1969, Pole Pole starred in the film An Elephant Called Slowly with Dame Virginia McKenna and the late Bill Travers MBE. Snatched from the wild and subsequently gifted by the Kenyan government of the day to London Zoo, she was destroyed in the zoo’s elephant house, resulting in a huge public outcry.  


Pole Pole’s story is a tale from four decades ago. But, as ‘Enough Is Enough’ highlights, little has changed. Elephants in zoos are still dying young, are still physically and psychologically damaged, and are still being denied the opportunity to live their lives in the rich, complex societal groups they experience in their vast, wild habitats. Astonishingly, UK zoos are still net consumers of elephants because of high infant mortality rates, poor reproductive success, and the reduced longevity recorded when these magnificent animals are kept in unnatural, captive environments. 

Today, we ask supporters and members of the public to watch the film and join us to help bring this travesty to an end by signing the #ElephantFreeUK petition calling for the urgent, humane phasing-out of elephants in UK zoos, beginning by urging the government to prohibit attempts to breed elephants in captivity, and stopping the importation of additional elephants into the UK. 


Dame Joanna Lumley said “I am truly honoured to be part of this poignant and important animation, to lend my voice to it, and to the vital campaign to phase-out the keeping of elephants in zoos in the UK. So please, watch this beautiful animation, let the story touch your heart, but then ACT. Sign Born Free’s petition, use your voice to tell others, and tell those in power that elephants do not belong behind bars. We need an Elephant Free UK. Their future is in our hands.” 

An elephant never forgets, and we cannot afford to forget them. Enough Is Enough.