Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Another sad chapter in the tragic life of Rhanee


Rhanee is alone again in her small enclosure at Valwo Zoo in Spain, after the death of her companion Costa.

Asian elephant Rhanee caught the public imagination after she was shown on video being beaten at Mary Chipperfield Promotions. Her keeper was jailed for cruelty, and two directors of Mary Chipperfield Promotions, Mary Chipperfield Cawley and Roger Cawley, were convicted and fined for cruelty to other animals. The charges were brought by ADI after we collected devastating video evidence during an undercover investigation. However it seemed that there was to be no justice for Rhanee when MCP closed down, she disappeared without trace.

Having scoured Europe, ADI discovered Rhanee over a year later, alone, in a small barren enclosure at Valwo Zoo in north central Spain. An international campaign was launched to appeal for Rhanee to be retired to a sanctuary which specialises in the care of abused elephants; the campaign was backed by Sir Paul McCartney, Brian Blessed, Jay Kay of Jamiroqui and many more. However, the zoo’s owner, the huge entertainment group Parques Reunidos, refused all approaches, but as the media pressure mounted, a series of improvements were made to Rhanee’s enclosure: a small shelter was added, a small pool dug and filled with water, a companion was introduced, a female elephant called Costa.

ADI believe that the addition of Costa was the biggest single improvement to the quality of Rhanee’s life. The pair appeared to get on well, they would move around together, and touch each other frequently. We noted a reduction in Rhanee’s stereotypic behaviours.

Tragically, however, a check-up visit in April this year brought very disturbing news Costa was extremely sick. She was skin and bone, her legs were constantly buckled, so that her rump was almost touching the ground; she had a problem with her trunk, and was unable to drink properly; she had extreme difficulty walking.

ADI immediately contacted Parques Reunidos asking what action they were taking to help Costa. We offered any assistance to help alleviate her suffering. We received no reply. Costa died in May.

In July, a further visit to Valwo Zoo confirmed that Rhanee was once again alone. It seems that Rhanee, more than ever, symbolises the misery heaped upon captive elephants. Will she ever get any justice? ADI have again written to Parques Reunidos, offering to relocate Rhanee to a specialist sanctuary. Let’s hope they have finally given up on any hope of breeding from this sad, lonely, damaged elephant.

Write to: Consejo de Administracion de Parques Reunidos, Parques Zoologica,
Oficinas Centrales, Casa de Campo S/N
28011 MADRID, Spain.

© Animal Defenders International 2018