Hold Eaza accountible and FREE Tania!

  • by: P.S. Gravemaker
  • target: EU Parliament Committee on Agriculture: Mrs V. Dăncilă, WAZA, EAZA & Tirgu Zoo

You remember that 185.000 people signed our petition for 39 yr old, zoo elephant Tania, right? She arrived in Tirgu Mures Zoo, Romania in 2012. There, she was kept in solitary confinement in a concrete cage and had to stand with her badly injured feet in her own urine and faeces.

All 'Tania' petitions have failed and there’s a simple reason for this: A lawyer once said that a sad story isn’t evidence, but relevant facts are.... So this petition provides facts and these facts PROVE that Eaza acted against its own rules on elephant husbandry- and welfare. That makes all the difference this time. And Tania really needs your help because this is what her life looks like right NOW!

Eaza is the 'European Association of Zoos and Aquaria' and has 347 member zoos. That means that every zoo has to adhere to Eaza’s guidelines and any decision made by a zoo has to be authorized by Eaza. Eaza clearly states elephants are NOT to be kept alone. When Tania's tragic story was revealed through the media there was a massive public outcry so EAZA issued a statement.


Eaza’s explanation for Tania’s 24 year isolation was that Eaza didn’t even exist in 1978 when Tania arrived in Plaisance du Touch Zoo, France. Therefore, there simply was nothing they could have done to help her because  Eaza was only founded in 1992. There’s a very telling omission here: Eaza failed to address Tania’s isolation during the period 1992-2004 when Eaza did exist.

Nice dodge!

1978-1992 : Tania lives alone in Plaisance Zoo because there is NO Eaza. 

1992-2004 : Tania lives alone in Plaisance Zoo because there is AN Eaza?

Plaisance zoo is an Eaza member zoo and Eaza clearly states that Eaza zoos must keep female elephants together in groups and that it ensures the wellbeing of all its animals. Eaza was obligated to provide help with Tania’s rehabilitazion and to provide her with the companionship of other elephants. In reality, they authorized- and prolonged her isolation, against their own rules.

2) Eaza states that Tania does not get on with other elephants

NOT TRUE!! There was a brief period in Tania’s life when she spent time in Terra Natura Zoo in Spain. Unfortunately, this zoo ran into financial difficulties so Tania would soon be moved again but this was the first time, after 26 years that she was reunited with other elephants. By then she was already considered a difficult elephant but she was placed with elephants Khaiso and Petita. Khaiso also had a difficult past but the two quickly became inseparable. Another recent, positive example is Mila

Bear in mind that zoos often use this same claim to justify housing solitary elephants when, in fact, it is the unnatural conditions at zoos that deprive elephants of their most basic needs—room to move and stable, natural social groupings.  

Tania was born in the wild and only three years old (when she was still suckling) when she was sold to Plaisance Zoo. Here, she was kept in solitary confinement for the next 26 years. Just ponder that fact for a second!! Elephants are highly sociable animals, with very strong ties to their families. Elephants stay with their mothers their entire life. It's completely understandable that losing her family at such a young age, immediately followed by 26 years of isolation had a devastating- and lasting effect on Tania. But despite this trauma Tania did manage to make friends with Khaiso and Petita. Unfortunately, she was then moved to zoos in France and Italy, which caused distress in itself, and just like people, Tania doesn't form a friendship with just any other elephant, especially not when she suffers from emotional problems. She repeatedly rocks and sways, which is a coping mechanism indicating that Tania is in psychological distress. 

In a final act of cruelty, Eaza decided to FACILITATE Tania’s move to this hellhole in Romania even though they knew about her severely diseased feet. So the real question is: WHY?

3) Tirgu Mures Zoo and Tania's premature death

Tania is part of the Eaza's 'European Endangered Species Program' but Tirgu isn’t an Eaza member yet. Tirgu is an Eaza candidate and won't be eligible for Eaza membership until 2017. In order for a zoo to be granted full Eaza membership, it has to comply with Eaza’s standards. Eaza knew that Tirgu didn’t comply with even minimum standards but they facilitated Tania's move anyway: Tirgu has no other elephants, her enclosure wasn’t even completed when she arrived so she had to be kept in a tiny cage until it was finished. Eaza’s cynical evalution could be: ‘Out of sight-out of mind, Tirgu’s candidate membership ends in 2017 & Tania might be dead by then’. 

Eaza also knew about her degenerative joint disease (DJD) and excruciatingly painful feet. Her left back foot was so badly infected that she held it up constantly. And after her arrival in Tirgu, Eaza didn't even check if Tania was provided with the best / or indeed any medical care. By now, it's inevitable that Tania will probably die soon unless she’s moved. Romania's cold climate means that Tania is forced to spend most of her time indoors but her medical condition (DJD) requires her amble outdoor space to walk, to climb & dig and kicking logs. Spending most of her time indoors actually aggrevates DJD.

4) Solitary Elephant Anne is another example that Eaza isn’t consistent in enforcing its own rules

Very recently, Eaza abandoned another severly abused and lonely elephant. Her name is Anne and she has to spend the rest of her life alone in Longleat, UK. Longleat is an Eaza member zoo as well so Eaza failed elephant Anne too. Please read and sign that PETITION as well. The real tragedy is that Tania and Anne could have been friends!

Eaza’s  conduct regarding Tania’s treatment doesn't really foster any trust- or even bear any resemblance to Eaza's ensurance to the wellbeing of all its animals. They clearly state that female elephants must be kept together in groups and they failed Tania time and again under their own watch. When Eaza ensures the wellbeing of all their animals then it is their responsibilty to own up to its mistakes and correct them, even if that means releasing them from their zoos.

  • Demand that WAZA properly investigates Eaza’s conduct in this matter and will do their utmost best to now make Tania's wellbeing a top priority. Eaza is Waza's Regional association for all of Europe and Eaza has shown itself to be a disgrace. Eaza has only recently started a 'damage control campaign' : It doesn't excuse their past behaviour!
  • Demand that EAZA urges Tirgu to transfer Tania to a proper sanctuary. In the event of non-compliance Eaza should threaten denying Tirgu an Eaza membership. It will benefit both parties and most of all Tania.
  • Demand that Ms Vasilica Viorica Dancila (EU Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, in cooperation with Mr. Janez Potocnik, EU Commissioner for the Environment, Mr Janez Potocnik) will re-evaluate their stance based on the gross distortions of key facts by Eaza. This is unacceptable behaviour for an organization that represents 347 EU member Zoos.


In order for this petition to be truly successful, PLEASE EMAIL the following 7 agencies yourself. This is absolutely crucial for succes and it will only take a minute of your time. I've provided all e-mail adresses and a sample text: You can simply 'copy and paste' it but of course, you can use your own words as well or use excerpts from this petition. There have been so many petitions with so many signatures but so far, there are no results so we simply must persevere.

1) European Commissioner for the Environment, Mr Janez Potocnik.

Email :  janez.potocnik@ec.europa.eu

2) EU Parliament : Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, Ms Vasilica Viorica Dancila.

Email :  vasilicaviorica.dancila@europarl.europa.eu

3) European Commission for the Environment.

Email : sg-plaintes@ec.europa.eu  (attention of: Ion Codescu, Head of Enforcement)

4) Eaza Executive Office, Dr. Lesley Dickie.

Email : lesley.dickie@eaza.net  / FACEBOOK & FACEBOOK 'Tania page'

5) The European Parliament’s Animal Welfare Intergroup.

Email : info@eurogroupforanimals.org 

6) Contact your local Roman Embassy or Consulate : you'll find a complete list here below:


7) Waza (World Zoo & Aquarium Community)

Email Webform

(8) Share on your Twitter and Facebook: Even Ricky Gervais had a Tania Facebook Page!

Sample Text:

Tania is a 39 year old zoo elephant who has suffered a lifetime of solitary confinement. In the wild, elephants form lifelong bonds. All female elephants live their entire lives in close-knit, hierarchically complex herds. Calves stay with their mothers for life. The world and the media has been horrified by Tania's suffering. About 300.000 people signed petitions to free her from her concrete cage and Eaza’s subsequent statement was misleading and false: In reality, Eaza acted against its own rules on elephant husbandry- and welfare. Tania is also very ill. Osteoarthritis and osteomyelitis as foot diseases are the main cause of captive elephant death and Tania simply doesn't have adequate space to move. Osteomyelitis is an untreatable bone infection (which is extremely painful) and will be the cause of Tania's death, if she is not moved. She needs space to walk, to climb and dig, wade into streams, kicking logs, and foraging. All agencies have failed her so far, as have countless petitions. She also has no companionship, she's has to remain indoors most of the time because of Romania's cold climate and she clearly shows signs of distress and depression. No party wins here least of all Tania: It is bad publicity for Eaza, for The EU, for Tirgu Mures Zoo, for zoos in general, for Romania and for all governing bodies if they remain unwilling to make a stand. Force Eaza to make Tania’s wellbeing a priority and demand that Eaza urges Tirgu to release Tania to a proper sanctuary. Tania truly deserves to live the remainder of her life in a proper sanctuary. Here, elephants can wander at will, away from human gaze, over open brush bristling with trees for grazing and spattered with mud-holes in which to wallow. They are treated with respect, kindness and cruelty-free management methods. She has had a life of misery and neglect, so please give her one last chance of some happiness at the end of her days after all that she has gone through. Thank you in advance for your reply,

Kind regards,

Information here below clearly shows how all named agencies could fail Tania despite a public outcry to release Tania.

Following all the media commotion and widespread public outrage, all 'petitioned' agencies started passing the baton.

Tirgu’s zoo director Mr. Andras Kapacz refers to Eaza, Eaza refers in its statement to the Romanian Ministry of Environment and the European Commisioner for the Environment, Mr. Janez Potočnik, referred to the EU Zoo Directive on 20/2/12

Short version:

All these agencies failed!

Long Version:

The Romanian Federation for Animal Protection (FNPA) was  given the "runaround. They sent three letters to Tirgu and only the last letter received the following reply:
 "Tania is part of the Eaza's European Endangered Species Program (EEP), and she is now in custody at Tirgu. For any other information, we ask you to address Eaza directly. Tirgu Mures will not allow an independent evaluation of Tania".

Eaza neglected to inform the public and relevant agencies that Plaisance is an Eaza member zoo and under Eaza's own very clear rules, female elephants must be kept together in groups but Tania remained alone. Eaza also facilitated her move to Tirgu, despite her foot injuries, her DJD and a not yet completed enclosure.

The EU Zoo Directive (which Mr. Janez Potočnik referred to) is rather vague: Unlike other EC Directives, the EC Zoos Directive (1999/22) was not published with explanatory notes. This resulted in systemic failures in implementation and enforcement of the Directive’s requirements. However, this EU Zoo Directive does state that zoos must keep animals in a manner that meets their biological needs (i.e. company of other elephants and a natural climate) and that members must carry out regular inspections in zoos.

The Romanian Ministry of Environment and Forests did indeed carry out inspections in  Tirgu with this EU Zoo Directive on numerous occasions in 2012/13. They assesed that everything was fine. Fine as in the fact that her exhibit wasn’t even completed when Tania was moved to Tirgu. Fine as her spending her time indoors in a cage with unbearable noise and echo. Fine as in her NOT receiving (proper) medical treatment for her DJD and diseased feet, fine as her standing with her injured feet in her own urine and faeces, fine as in her having to spend most time of the year indoors due to Romania’s cold climate, completely alone.

This ‘system’ of referring culpabilty- and/ or responsibility resulted in.... no results.

Aristotle said the elephant “surpasses all others in wit and mind”

Update #13 years ago
Please sign petition for another 'EAZA' elephant in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT. Badly abused elephant Anne spends her time completely alone in Longleat, UK. The main premise of the story is the misappropriation of £345,000 in public donations to build a sanctuary but it also clearly addresses Eaza’s role. The sad part is that Tania and Anne could have been friends.

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