News Blog Articles Ratepayers to foot the bill for Auckland Council’s ‘white elephant’

Ratepayers to foot the bill for Auckland Council’s ‘white elephant’

October 24th, 2017

SAFE is disappointed in Auckland Council’s  decision today to approve funding to relocate an elephant from Sri Lanka  to Auckland Zoo, saying it is a cause for concern for local ratepayers  and animals.

Mandy Carter, campaigns director, gave a presentation to Auckland  councillors this morning on the costs of this decision to both animal  welfare – from bringing the elephant, Nandi from her home in Sri Lanka  to Auckland’s small urban zoo – and to local ratepayers who will be  footing the bill for this short-sighted plan, which totals $3.2 million  for two elephants. $1.6 million has already been spent on importing  Anjalee.

The meeting of the Finance and Performance Committee approved a  budget omission of $549,000, with 15 councillors voting for the motion,  and five against. One of the councillors who voted against made the  point that the money could be better spent elsewhere.

There has been an outcry from eighteen community organisations in Sri  Lanka, who have been fighting to prevent the export of Nandi through  their Court of Appeal for the past eighteen months.

Auckland Zoo currently houses long-term captive elephant Burma, plus  another from Sri Lanka, Anjalee, who arrived in June 2015 amongst heavy  criticism internationally. New Zealand was ‘gifted’ an additional  elephant earlier this year, who, it is planned, will join them. Auckland  Zoo ostensibly plans to start a breeding programme, at a cost of  approximately $13 million dollars.

“Nandi is being separated from her home just to live life essentially  as a mascot for the rest of her disappearing kin, and to prop up zoo  visitor numbers. The opposition from both Sri Lankans and international  animal welfare experts has been ignored,” says Ms Carter.

A consortium of over 20 highly respected leading elephant experts has  called upon plans for more elephants to be imported, to be rejected.

“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 a  money-sink in both the short and long-term, with no relevance to  conservation. 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.” added Ms. Carter.

“Much of New Zealand’s native wildlife is in dire need of funding to  help conserve the species – the $1.6 million could go a long way.  Conversely, it is estimated to be 50 times more expensive to keep an  elephant in a zoo than to protect an elephant in the wild,” says Ms  Carter.

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