What future for Melbourne’s baby elephant?
Humane Society International (HSI) today expressed its disappointment at the ongoing elephant breeding programs in Australia’s zoos, after the birth of the zoo’s third elephant calf early on Thursday morning. Whilst these births are claimed by zoos to be milestones in the regional conservation breeding program, the reality is far from the truth.
Life for the elephant calf born early this morning will be particularly lonely. As a male, he can expect to be separated from his elephant companions as soon as he hits adolescence, allowed only occasional visits by breeding females when keepers deem appropriate. This is the lonely life currently being experience by Sydney’s adult male elephant Gung.
“The images of elephants roaming free are something that the elephant calf born today will never be able to experience” said HSI’s Alexia Wellbelove. “Once he reaches maturity any opportunities for social interaction and to act out natural behaviours will be tightly controlled. HSI firmly believes that conservation programs for endangered species should focus on increasing populations of animals in the wild, not programs that condemn animals to a life in captivity”.
Since the importation of elephants from Thailand six elephant calves (four males and two females) have been born in Sydney’s Taronga Zoo and Melbourne Zoo and a further two calves are expected in the next year. HSI believes that city zoos simply cannot provide enough space to meet the needs of elephants - no matter how hard they try.