Tuesday, 15 January 2013

MEDIA RELEASE: ZIMBABWE ELEPHANTS SOLD TO CHINESE ZOOS


Media Release.  14 January 2013

World Citizens for Elephants
INTERNATIONAL OUTRAGE OVER SALE OF WILD BABY ELEPHANTS TO CHINESE ZOOS AND CIRCUSES.






TEXT ONLY.

Media Release.  14 January 2013

World Citizens for Elephants
INTERNATIONAL OUTRAGE OVER SALE OF WILD BABY ELEPHANTS TO CHINESE ZOOS AND CIRCUSES.

Nine baby Zimbabwe elephants have recently been caught in the wild and sold to Chinese Zoos. Four calves were flown to China in December 2012; one of the infants tragically died on arrival at the zoo in China, leaving the remaining elephant of that pair alone. They were destined for the Beijing Zoo; however these were on-sold to The Taiyuan Zoo and Circus. The other two went to Xinjiang Tianshan Safari Park.  Temperatures at the Chinese Zoos can fall below -10 Celsius.  


Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF), told SW Radio Africa he was "disgusted" and "heartbroken" by these recent developments, because elephants are "just like humans" and taking their babies is “just like kidnapping”.

Elephant Biologist, Dr Joyce Poole, Co-Director of Elephant Voices states "Wild elephants live in close-knit family groups, female elephants maintain lifelong bonds with their relatives and babies rarely venture more than a few metres from their mothers - to remove infants from their natal herds undoubtedly causes immense suffering and harm to both the infants and their mothers". It has been confirmed that five more baby elephants remain in captivity in Zimbabwe awaiting transportation to Chinese Zoos.

World Citizens for Elephants (WCE) has mounted a petition voicing global concern about the capture, sale of the elephants and the death of the calf. The public petition has gained 13,000 signatures in a week; including elephant experts Dame Daphne Sheldrick, Dr Cynthia Moss and Dr Joyce Poole, amongst others. The petition calls on the Secretariat of CITES, the body responsible for monitoring the trade in endangered species, and its Member Parties Zimbabwe and China to investigate the circumstances surrounding the sales and to stop the remaining elephants being transported to China.

Born Free Foundation has lodged an official complaint to the CITES authorities.  The Asia for Animals Coalition (AfA) whose members include Animals Asia, IFAW, Humane Society International, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and others, are concerned that “The standard of animal care at Chinese zoos remains far from satisfactory to provide for the behavioral and physiological needs of wild caught African elephant calves. The inhumane methods used to ‘train’ elephants for public performances, doom one of Africa’s most beloved animals to lives of deprivation and illness.” The AfA Coalition has called for the immediate cancellation of the sales.

Director of The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization, David Bozas and its Executive Director Yvette Taylor, said in interview "The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization strongly condemns the sale of the nine elephant calves to Chinese Zoos and urges Authorities to do all within their power to rectify the situation and ensure the welfare of the elephants in Zimbabwe and China."


World Citizens for Elephants (WCE) has released a public statement and continues to protest the capture and trade of these unfortunate calves. A spokesperson for WCE, Jude Price, said "We call on the National Park authorities in Zimbabwe to release the remaining elephants to a suitable sanctuary for rehabilitation and eventual release into the wild and the authorities in China to work with a reputable welfare organisation to ensure that the three elephants in China are reunited and provided with proper housing and care in a sanctuary-like environment".

Concerned citizens can sign the petition here: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/CITES_Revoke_Zimbabwe_Elephant_Permits/

This is not the first time Zimbabwe has had their actions called into question regarding management of wildlife. In 2010 the sale of elephants to North Korean zoos was stopped following an international outcry.  In March 2012, the Scientific Support Officer at CITES Secretariat based in Geneva, Tom De Meulenaer, stated in an article about wildlife irregularities in the ZimEye. “Zimbabwe used to be a leader in environment and wildlife and we are aware that it has lost its standards and hope that will be restored before it is too late”.

[end]

Attributions: 
SW Radio. Tererai Karimakwenda, 7 January 2013. http://allafrica.com/stories/201301080216.html
ZimEye, Gift Kugara, March 2, 2012. http://www.zimeye.org/?p=47854 


Contact:
World Citizens for Elephants: Jude Price  +61 8 0468 450 916 email: elephantectivism@gmail.org
Adelaide, Australia – Central Daylight Time


Separate attached photo of the remaining elephant calf being kept alone in an unheated concrete facility at the Taiyuan Zoo and Circus is free for use.