Date is set for Asian elephant appeal

Thursday, July 28, 2005
Sydney, Australia
A legal appeal to decide the fate of eight Asian elephants earmarked for Australian zoos has been set for September 26, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal ruled today (Thursday, 28 July).
Taronga and Melbourne zoos also agreed to not move the eight Asian elephants from Thailand until an appeal has been completed.   

IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare), RSPCA Australia and Humane Society International (HSI) are appealing the decision of the Minister for Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell—made on July 20—to allow the import of eight Asian elephants to Taronga and Melbourne zoos.

In a move strongly supported by international experts, the three organisations are appealing against this decision on the grounds that the zoos cannot meet the biological and behavioural needs of the elephants and there is no conservation benefit to  stocking Australian zoos with these animals.

HSI, RSPCA Australia and IFAW want an appeal to be concluded as quickly as possible – as this is in the elephants’ best interests.

IFAW campaigner Rebecca Brand said: “It is good news that an appeal date had been set and animal welfare groups are very keen that it is completed as quickly as possible. Claims that a so-called zoo-breeding program will help save this endangered species are weak and unfounded. We are confident that this flawed and damaging decision will be overturned.”

“Elephant welfare is being put at risk for no conservation benefit. Worse, it may well be detrimental. In purchasing elephants from camps in Thailand the zoos have risked stimulating the market demand for juvenile elephants in Asia that drives an illegal trade from the wild”, said Nicola Beynon from HSI.

RSPCA Australia President Dr Hugh Wirth said: “Elephants in zoos breed poorly, suffer a series of health problems and die at a younger age than other elephants. We are determined to stop this import.”

Importing these elephants does not meet the requirements of Australia's wildlife trade legislation. The breeding program is not necessary, unlikely to be viable and the zoos themselves have said it will not result in any elephants being reintroduced to the wild.

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