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Animal Defenders International : Conservation & Wildlife : US zoos secretly fly 18 elephants from Africa before court case can be heard

Animal Defenders International

 

Animal Defenders International

US zoos secretly fly 18 elephants from Africa before court case can be heard

Posted: 10 March 2016. Updated: 11 September 2017

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Eighteen elephants will never see Africa again, having been snatched from the wild and sold to US zoos in Dallas, Kansas (Sedwick), and Nebraska (Henry Doorly). An emergency injunction was granted to Friends of Animals to prevent the zoos’ secret flight made to avoid next week’s court hearing, but fell through when it became known the elephants had already been anaesthetised for boarding.

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ADI joined other experts opposing the commercial trade of this critically endangered species, projected for extinction within 10 years. The science is clear – conservation must occur in-country and requires cooperation of consumer markets like the US. The lawsuit by Friends of Animals describes how Swaziland previously imported elephants after poaching devastated their native population, and has since now twice sold half their elephant population to US zoos:
The Friends of Animals lawsuit describes this history:

  • 1987 & 1994: Swaziland seeks/receives elephants imported to reintroduce the species decimated there by hunting and poaching
  • 2003: Swaziland claims overpopulation and sells half its herd to Tampa & San Diego zoos under threat of cull, and promises to expand reserves to avoid further issues
  • 2014: Swaziland again sells half its herd to Dallas, Sedwick (Kansas), and Henry Doorly (Nebraska) zoos under threat of cull, despite global opposition and offers for assistance with infrastructure, expert guidance, or relocation to alternate African reserves.

Each time the herd has been threatened with culling, citing “over-population” to force through the permitting and portray the sale as “saving” the elephants - this is a lie. Global opposition to the sales included tangible offers to assist with infrastructure, expert guidance, or relocation to African reserves. Put simply, the elephants did not need to leave the continent that nature intended them for. The claims of “conservation” and “necessity” are not credible or factual, and fly in the face of CITES and Endangered Species Act provisions.

Animals across Africa face many threats, but it is a myth that there is nowhere safe for them. Globally, all reputable conservation authorities have refuted the paternalistic idea that wild animals are better off in captivity. This sale does not offer increased protection for these elephants or their species, and it does not support efforts on the ground to make them safer, but rather seeks only to justify the plunder and exploitation of wildlife.

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