Mike Collins

Stand up for elephants! Zoos come together to urge Government to act on World Elephant Day

Posted: 12th August, 2021
  • 10 of Britain’s leading zoos and safari parks that care for elephants, including the Zoological Society of London – Whipsnade Zoo, Longleat Safari Park and Chester Zoo, sign open letter to Government Minister calling for the highest welfare for elephants across the world.
  • UK Zoos adhere to the highest standards of care for elephants and call for similar standards abroad.
  • The Animal Welfare (Animals Abroad) Bill is likely to ban the advertising of elephant rides abroad. 
  • The letter draws attention to the plight of wild elephants on World Elephant Day. Elephants are under threat from poaching, human conflict, disease and habitat loss  


A letter calling for Government action to protect elephants across the world has been issued by 10 zoos and safari parks who care for their own elephants, on this World Elephant Day [12 August]. The open letter, organised by BIAZA (British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums), urges George Eustice, the Secretary of State for the Environment, to use the upcoming Animal Welfare (Animals Abroad) Bill, to protect elephants in the wild and in human care.  

Click here to download the letter.

The letter explains that while BIAZA zoos adhere to the highest standards for elephant care in the world, sadly these beautiful animals are poorly treated around the globe. Elephants abroad face extraordinary challenges, including cruel and inhumane treatment in tourist sites as well as persecution in the wild. The letter calls for the use of animal welfare toolkits to assess the care of elephants and to call for an end to low-welfare activities.  


The IUCN has shown that elephant populations have dramatically declined. The African savanna and Asian elephants are both endangered, while the African Forest elephant is critically endangered meaning it faces an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. The African Forest elephant has seen a staggering population decline of more than 86% over the past 31 years. The loss of elephants in the wild has been driven by poaching, human conflict disease and habitat loss. 


Dr Jo Judge, CEO of BIAZA commented: “Our zoos and aquariums have a unique understanding of the needs and the challenges elephants face. We must seize this chance to create a better world and enable our children and grandchildren to live in a world where elephants thrive.”  


Jamie Christon, CEO of Chester Zoo said:


“Chester Zoo provides world class levels of care to endangered Asian elephants. Our work is ground-breaking and multifaceted, and guided by science and experience.


“Lots of this knowledge and knowhow has been applied to the benefit of wild herds in Assam, India, where, for more than 20 years, we’ve worked closely with local communities to develop a model that is preventing human-elephant conflict in the region. Meanwhile, we’re is spearheading vital scientific research into EEHV, a deadly virus that affects Asian elephants in the wild and in zoos, on behalf of the global conservation community. As a leading wildlife charity, we offer solutions to complex conservation challenges.


“What we must now see in the government’s new Animals Abroad Bill is a set of standards that ensures the same, top class levels of welfare and highest possible conservation impacts for elephants. Their very future on this planet may rely on it.”


Collectively the signatories care for 30 elephants. As members of BIAZA, they adhere to the highest standards in the world on elephant care. Their elephants have important roles as ambassador species, educating the public, participants in breeding programs and part of vital research that directly protects their wild counterparts.  


Dr Dominique Tropeano Director of Colchester Zoo which cares for a herd of African elephants said:


“Colchester Zoo and its charitable arm, Action for the Wild, are supportive of this letter striving to enhance the welfare of elephants globally. Elephants are a key species for our zoo collection enabling us to educate thousands of zoo visitors to the plight of elephants in the wild and raise essential funds to support their conservation in Zambia.” 



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