Research shows captive elephants suffer and don’t belong in zoos

SAFE says the Auckland City Council should not be supporting Auckland Zoo's proposal to make space for a new elephant herd. Despite opposition, the council gave the green light for the next stage of the proposal which is estimated to cost over $13 million.

The Council's Arts, Culture and Recreation Committee met to discuss plans to increase the zoo boundary behind the existing elephant enclosure. SAFE says the committee should have rejected the proposal if it takes the welfare of elephants seriously.

SAFE is surprised that Auckland Zoo remains determined to have elephants when many international zoos have decided against keeping elephants on grounds of animal welfare.

"Many elephant experts and a number of zoos are now of the opinion that zoos cannot provide elephants with sufficient space or facilities and suffer as a result," says SAFE campaign director Hans Kriek.

"Even with the proposed increase of their boundary, Auckland Zoo cannot provide adequate space for these majestic animals. Animal behaviourists argue that elephants suffer tremendously in captivity, as zoos cannot meet the physical, behavioural, psychological and social needs of elephants. Why does Auckland Zoo think it can do any better?" says Mr Kriek.

"It is estimated to be 50 times more expensive to keep an elephant in a zoo than to protect an elephant in the wild. It costs a lot less to maintain the original habitat than to recreate an artificial elephant herd and enclosure in Auckland," says Mr Kriek.

SAFE is concerned about Auckland Zoo's solitary elephant, Burma, and believes the best solution is for her to be relocated to an elephant sanctuary where she can socialize with other elephants.

International animal welfare organisations that oppose the keeping of elephants in captivity include: RSPCA (UK and AUS), Born Free Foundation, World Society for the Protection of Animals, Humane Society International, International Fund for Animal Welfare and US based group PETA.

Why is safe against importing elephants to Auckland Zoo?

SAFE presented a comprehensive 12-page submission to the Auckland City Council in opposition to Auckland Zoo seeking to import elephants from Europe. Auckland Zoo wants to establish a herd of 10 elephants and requires $13m of ratepayer funds from the council.