South Africa Wildlife: Johannesburg Zoo acquires 2 elephants amid activist outcry
Animal rights activists are furious after a zoo in South Africa expanded its elephant exhibit instead of closing it. Critics had been demanding the Johannesburg Zoo release its lone elephant. CGTN's Julie Scheier reports.
The Johannesburg Zoo's Lammie the elephant was left on her own when her partner Kinkel died last year. She now has two new mates, Ramodiba and Mopani, much to the delight of young visitors.
"I think it's so cool that I get to see an elephant because I haven't seen an elephant in a long time. And she's beautiful. And it's cool that she's like 40 years old, and then she's going to be with elephants that are younger than her."
"I think it's very cute. Because many people can see him. And they better because they don't, they don't get killed and stuff and get poached."
JULIE SCHEIER JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA "It will take a few weeks before the new elephants are trained and completely familiarised with their new home. But for now interactions with their new friend Lammie is limited."
CANDICE WARD ENRICHMENT OFFICER, JOHANNESBURG ZOO "They've been housed in a separate area from Lammie for now. They've had introductions over the Boma fence, they are able to smell one another touch one another. But for now, they're not allowed full contact. Another thing is the boundary moat that we have here. We want to make sure that when they are introduced, there's going to be no pushing and shoving. And we have, you know, an incident where an elephant ends up in a moat."
But not everyone's happy. The arrival of Ramodiba and Mopani has sparked outrage from animal rights' activists who want Lammie released.
SMARAGDA LOUW CHAIRPERSON, BAN ANIMAL TRADING "The zoo is too small anyway to cater for three elephants. And we believe that the right thing would have been for the zoo too let Lammie go to a sanctuary, where she could have spent her the rest of the days in peace. What they did was in secrecy, and obtain another two elephants and all it does is perpetuate the cycle of cruelty about elephants in captivity."
Pro animal organisations have accused the zoo of underhanded tactics and wasting taxpayers' money. It has admitted to paying more than 100 thousand dollars to acquire the elephants. But denies any wrongdoing.
JENNY MOODLEY SPOKESPERSON, JOHANNESBURG CITY PARKS "We have complied 100% with the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's elephant plans. we have a moral obligation to make sure that we can accommodate these elephants or animals in our care and we have an offside space in Parys, which is 600 hectares in size. And this would be an alternative plan. If for some reason the elephants here are not able to cope."
The zoo says the elephants will be closely monitored through the transition, and there are plans to widen the enclosure. But activists are not backing down, and are calling for a boycott of the facility.