Rahul Khanna, Celina Jaitly Back PETA’s Call for Freedom for Byculla Zoo Elephants

For Immediate Release:
31 August 2011

Sachin Bangera (0) 98201 22561; [email protected]
Kriti Sachdeva (022) 4072 7382; [email protected]

Mumbai- Following years of publicising the plight of elephants kept chained, who suffer physically and psychologically in zoos, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India has confirmed that the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has relocated 18 elephants from zoos throughout India to spacious sanctuaries where they will be able to roam, receive professional care and enjoy the company of other elephants. The move was in keeping with the CZA’s 2009 order banning the use of elephants in zoos. However, some zoos are attempting to circumvent this directive by asking to be exempt from relocating elephants, including the Byculla Zoo in Mumbai where elephant Laxmi frustrated by captivity killed a man last year. In the lead up to the Ganesh festival, PETA is urging CZA to ignore pressure from zoos reluctant to release elephants once again. Actors Rahul Khanna and Celina Jaitly support the campaign.

“I commend the Central Zoo Authority for relocating 18 elephants from zoo imprisonment to forest areas where they can roam, socialise and live more fulfilling lives. At this time of Ganesh Chaturthi, as the whole nation gears up to celebrate an elephant god, I urge the CZA to now take steps to ensure all remaining elephants are moved to forest areas immediately, including those jailed at Byculla Zoo” says Rahul Khanna. “These gentle giants have spent most of their lives lonely, bored and in chains swaying and bobbing in severe frustration. They deserve to live out the rest of their lives in nature and to enjoy freedom.”

In 2010, Celina Jaitly had fired off a letter to CZA urging the agency to immediately transfer the two Byculla zoo elephants, Laxmi and Anarkali, to a sanctuary. Jaitly also urged the CZA to expedite the relocation of all captive elephants who are currently used in Indian zoos and circuses. Jaitly’s plea came after the tragic death of the man who trespassed into Laxmi’s enclosure. Elephants who are incarcerated and kept shackled in chains often become frustrated and angry and sometimes lash out.

“In Mumbai and other parts of India, elephants in captivity are kept in cruel conditions”, says Jaitly. “It breaks my heart to see them separated from their families as babies and sentenced to a lifetime of boredom, loneliness and abuse. I applaud the CZA’s decision that a zoo environment is wholly inadequate for elephants.”

“Thanks to the CZA’s action, life has improved tremendously for the elephants who have been moved from the cramped confines of a zoo to the large natural spaces where they now reside”, says PETA India Director of Veterinary Affairs Dr Manilal Valliyate. “Now we are urging the CZA to give elephants the gift of freedom this Ganesh Chaturthi by keeping their commitment to move every and free every remaining elephant still held captive in Indian zoos and retire them to forest areas where they can live out their lives in peace.”

PETA investigators found that elephants held captive in zoos across India are commonly chained and driven insane by their confinement. They also found appalling neglect, decrepit facilities and animal suffering on a massive scale. Every facility was seriously deficient in food, drinking water, housing, veterinary care, environmental enrichment, safety and security.

PETA’s correspondence with the CZA is available upon request. Please visit PETAIndia.com for more information.