Phil Mumby

Blog: do elephants have a place in zoos?

Posted: 3rd May, 2022


BIAZA’s CEO Dr Jo Judge reflects on the role of elephants in zoos and safari parks, animal welfare and how elephants are contributing to conservation.

An animal of the size, complexity and wonder of an elephant, deserves the highest levels of respect and the utmost care when their life is dependent on us. We are sometimes asked about how our members care for these amazing animals. We are proud to say that BIAZA has the most stringent standards in the world on elephant care – simply put, our zoos and safari parks go above and beyond to ensure they are the best place in the world for them.   


BIAZA research shows the dramatic developments in elephant care in recent years:

  • BIAZA zoos and safari parks follow the highest elephant care standards in the world – the UK is a world leader in elephant care.
  • The space for all elephants in our zoos and safari parks has expanded and become more complex
  • Elephants are displaying natural behaviours in the care of our members
  • Our elephants are in better health thanks to 5* care from dedicated keepers including better footcare, nutrition and social welfare
  • Our members are leading the world in care of elderly elephants
  • Our zoos & safari parks are the forefront of elephant conservation with innovative and world-changing projects which are directly benefitting the welfare of elephants in the wild.

All good zoos and safari parks treat all animals with the compassion and care they deserve, underpinned by science and evidence. It is at the heart of what we do at BIAZA and we are proud that our members never compromise on animal welfare. That goes for the elephants in the care of the dedicated keepers in our community,

Elephant happiness is the daily goal of the dedicated elephant teams. Whether that veterinary care, or keeping elephants stimulated with an exciting and rich environment. Elephant Eden at Noah’s Ark is one of the best facilities in the world for elephants, and Anne the elderly elephant at Longleat is receiving the five-star treatment befitting an older lady at her sanctuary.

Those organisations privileged enough to care for elephants, extend that care and concern to all elephants. That is why those organisations are calling on UK Government to act for elephants everywhere in the Animals Abroad Bill. That is also why knowledge and understanding gained through the care of our elephants is being applied all over the world to benefit other elephants, both wild and in human care.

Elephant happiness is at the heart of BIAZA too. BIAZA would not support elephants in our zoos and safari parks if the evidence showed they could not be kept well.


Conservation and research are also at the heart of caring for elephants. Among the BIAZA community:

  • A world-first vaccine for deadly elephant herpes is being pioneered by irreplaceable research into UK elephant herds
  • Projects are being delivered to help communities live alongside elephants, for example artificial intelligence programs are being developed, based on elephant research here in the UK, that will directly reduce human-elephant conflict. Saving human and elephant lives.
  • Countless charities are being supported including the International Elephant Foundation, the Omo Forest Elephant Initiative in Nigeria, the Southern Tanzania Elephant Program, TUSK, Umphapha National Park and the Asian Nature Conservation Foundation.

What is remarkable is that so many of these projects would not be possible without the elephants in the care of good zoos and safari parks.

In the wild, all three species of elephants are threatened with extinction and their populations are decreasing. By supporting good zoos, visitors are directly contributing to the care & conservation of elephants across the world – if you care for elephants, care for zoos.

Put it together, happy elephants and world-beating conservation, BIAZA zoos and safari parks are providing a brighter future for elephants, the world over.

By Dr Jo Judge, CEO of BIAZA