News Blog Articles John Key urged to reject cruel ‘White Elephant’ gift ahead of Sri Lankan PM visit

John Key urged to reject cruel ‘White Elephant’ gift ahead of Sri Lankan PM visit

October 1st, 2016

Animal advocacy organisation SAFE is urging PM John Key to do the right  thing and reject the promised ‘gift’ of an elephant from the Sri Lankan  government. The call comes ahead of Sri Lanka Prime Minister, Ranil  Wickremesinghe’s first visit to New Zealand from 1-3 October, where he  will meet with the PM and government officials.

Auckland Zoo currently house elderly elephant Burma, plus another  elephant from Sri Lanka, Anjalee, who arrived amongst heavy criticism  internationally. New Zealand was ‘gifted’ an additional elephant, Nandi,  earlier this year, who, it is planned, will join them. Auckland Zoo  ostensibly plans to start a breeding programme, at a cost of millions of  dollars to rate payers.


Leading animal welfare advocates in Sri Lanka also oppose the move, with  legal action taken by organisations in Sri Lanka, who have petitioned  the Court of Appeal in an attempt to keep Nandi in the country. The  appeal will be heard on October 21.

Mandy Carter, head of campaigns for SAFE says “Nandi’s deportation has  been packaged as a gift to New Zealand, but the truth is that this was  always a plan by Auckland Zoo. Nandi will leave her home and her family  to live out her life as a mascot for the rest of her disappearing kin,  and bring in the revenue to keep the zoo afloat.”


“The zoo’s plans are at odds with the thinking in leading zoos around  the world which are increasingly moving away from keeping elephants on  welfare grounds. The ‘breeding programme’ proposed for Auckland Zoo is  not linked to any valid conservation programme. Elephants born and bred  in zoos cannot be and never are released back into the wild. Any  elephants born at Auckland Zoo will remain in captivity their entire  lives.” she says.


A consortium of over 20 highly respected leading elephant experts have  previously called upon plans for more elephants to be imported to be  rejected. These include welfare expert Will Travers of Born Free  Foundation, Dr Joyce Poole of Elephant Voices and Peter Stroud, a  zoological consultant, along with representatives of Amboseli Trust for  Elephants, RSPCA, Elephant Aid International, In Defense of Animals,  International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Humane Society  International.


When plans were announced, The Born Free Foundation had this to say;  (we) “are alarmed by reports that young elephants from Sri Lanka may  soon be transferred to Auckland Zoo. Exporting elephants from range  states to overseas zoos is ill-conceived, unsustainable and inhumane. We  firmly believe that this proposed export to New Zealand will result in  little or no conservation benefit to wild elephants, and come at a  significant cost to the welfare of the individual elephants involved. We  are urgently calling on the governments of the countries involved to  reconsider this move.”


“We would like to see our PM look beyond the surface and listen to what  elephant welfare experts are saying. The evidence is damning: elephants  do not belong in zoos,” says Ms. Carter.


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