No more Elephants for Auckland Zoo

  • By: Raquel
  • Target: Auckland Mayor Leonard Brown and Auckland Zoo's Director Jonathan Wilcken
On May 25 the Auckland Council voted to approve the acquisition of two more elephants for the city's zoo to join Burma, the 28 year-old elephant who could live another 40 years of a miserable life in this zoo.

Elephants are highly intelligent, complex and self-aware individuals who have evolved for long distance living. In the wild they range tens of miles a day, live in large, tight-knit family groups, and communicate with one another at great distances. Yet zoos keep elephants in tiny exhibits of a few acres or less, where lack of movement and standing on hard surfaces cause painful foot infections and arthritis, the leading causes of euthanasia in captive-held elephants. The stress and boredom of intensive captivity results in abnormal behaviors such as repetitive swaying and head bobbing.

The process to bring the elephants to New Zealand includes a quarantine in their country of origin, flying them to the island of Niue for medical checks and more quarantine procedures before coming to Auckland. Yet Auckland's Mayor defends the Council vote by saying that the decision was important in helping Auckland become a major tourist destination and making the city the capital of events.

Despite strong opposition, the Auckland zoo pushed forward their plans, claiming that having elephants in captivity helps elephants in the wild and shamefully the City Council supported the idea. 

Please ask the Auckland City Council and Auckland Zoo's director Jonathan Wilcken to cancel their plans to import two elephants and to better consider sending Burma to an elephant shelter overseas.
Dear Mr. Brown
Dear Mr. Wilcken

Elephants nor any other animal are commodities to be seen as a way to exploit them for financial gain for both the city of Auckland and the local zoo.

Elephants are suffering and dying prematurely in zoos all over the world. They are highly intelligent  and sensitive animals and deserve to live in dignity and freedom. There is overwhelming scientific evidence of the devastating effects of captivity on elephants. No zoo can provide the natural conditions necessary for elephants to live healty and long lives.

Dr. Keith Lindsay, a conservation biologist with thirty years experience studying wild elephants in Africa with the Amboseli Trust for Elephants, stated: "Elephants deserve our respect and human decency, not confinement and control in degrading, dangerous conditions."

The decision to bring two more elephants has nothing to do with helping conservation of elephants in the wild as the zoo website states, and everything to do with profiting from them. Elephants belong in the wild not in a zoo.  If it is the case that you are worried for  Burma being alone, bringing her two companions is not the solution, rather transfer her to a shelter overseas which is the only option for her to have the happy and healthy life that she deserves. Having elephants in captivity is cruel, wrong and immoral.

We urge you to overturn the decision to bring two elephants to Auckland's zoo and to consider sending Burma to an elephant refuge.

Thank you for taking the time to read our letter of concern.

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