Eighteen elephants from Swaziland, Africa are now in the U-S waiting to go to their new homes. They will eventually be shipped to the Dallas Zoo, The Wichita Sedgwick County Zoo and Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. The animal welfare group Friends of Animals filed an emergency restraining order in federal court earlier this week to prevent the elephants from being airlifted to the U-S. That request was denied.
Attorney Mike Harris agrees there were some problems with where they were residing in Swaziland. He says conditions there were not ideal but their goal was to relocate them to other areas of Africa where they could roam in the wild and not confined to a zoo.
There is a severe drought in Swaziland and food and water is scarce. Harris says, “There were groups out there including a group called groupelephant.com which is actually a conservation organization and a multi-national business and was willing to step up and fund not only to feed and water these animals while in Swaziland but to pay for their relocation to someplace else in Africa where they would be wanted.”
Harris says the trip to the U-S will be difficult for the elephants and they will likely suffer from post-traumatic stress. Their real concern was that research shows that life in captivity for elephants is quite emotional. Harris says, “They express their emotions and express their discomfort. We see elephants crying in zoos. We see elephants pacing. We see them rocking back and forth, displaying nervous behaviors. We see them get aggressive towards other animals and trainers. They die at a extremely lower age than in the wild. All of his is documented. It is time for us to understand that elephants are not the kind of species that belong in a zoo.”
Harris says these particular 18 elephants will not be able to be returned to the wild but they will be keeping close tabs on them. Harris says their battle isn’t over and they will now work to make sure this never happens again.
Photo provided by Friends of Animals.