Environment Ministry Breaches Ban On Sending Elephants To Zoos

For Immediate Release:
28 October 2010

Benazir Suraiya; [email protected]
Dr. Manilal Valliyate; [email protected]

New Delhi – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India has fired off a letter to Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Environment and Forests, calling on him to reconsider a just-announced plan to send two elephants held captive in Indian zoos to a zoo in Turkmenistan as part of an animal exchange programme. In the letter, PETA points out that the Ministry’s decision is in blatant violation of the Central Zoo Authority’s (CZA) November 2009 directive requiring that all elephants presently confined to zoos be shifted to camps, tiger reserves or Forest Department facilities at national parks. The miserable living conditions of elephants in zoos as well as the danger that the animals pose to the public prompted the CZA to initiate the directive.

“It’s shocking that the government would allow and even support actions that would be illegal in India to occur elsewhere”, says PETA India’s Poorva Joshipura. “This abhorrent breach of both the spirit and the letter of the CZA directive will sentence these two elephants – who have already suffered in zoos for years – to a continued life of loneliness and misery.”

In arriving at the ban, the CZA cited major concerns about the living conditions of elephants who are kept in zoos, including the lack of adequate space to permit free movement and the stress caused to the animals as a result of the zoos’ routine practice of keeping elephants chained for long hours. The CZA also expressed concern over the serious threat to which visitors are exposed when elephants are kept in captivity.

Elephants are highly intelligent and social animals; in the wild, females live in close-knit family groups for life. They spend about 18 hours a day walking, feeding, bathing in water holes and interacting with other elephants. They are also known to mourn the loss of relatives – just as humans do. In captivity, elephants are separated from their families as babies and are sentenced to a lifetime of boredom, loneliness and abuse.

For more information, please visit PETAIndia.com

PETA’s letter to Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh follows.

Shri Jairam Ramesh
Ministry of Environment & Forests
Paryavaran Bhawan
CGO Complex, Lodi Road
New Delhi – 110 003

27 October 2010

Dear Jairam Ramesh,

I am writing from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, one of the country’s largest animal protection organisations, with more than 80,000 members and supporters. We were shocked to hear that the Ministry of Environment & Forests have decided to send two elephants to Turkmenistan under the “zoo-to-zoo exchange programme” and that directions have been given to Central Zoo Authority to find elephants from Indian zoos for this purpose. Our office has been inundated with complaints about this decision – people overwhelmingly believe that this reversal of public interest and slap in the face to animal welfare must be stopped dead in its tracks.

Please also kindly note that this decision is a clear violation of the Central Zoo Authority of India’s directive sent to the Chief Wildlife Wardens of all states requiring zoos in India to immediately transfer elephants currently in captivity to camps, facilities of the Forest Department at National Parks or Tiger Reserves.

As you know, the progressive circular from the Member-Secretary of the Central Zoo Authority (dated November 7, 2009) cited major concerns about the trauma that elephants endure in zoos – they are denied everything that is natural and important to them, lack adequate space to move about freely and are routinely keep chained for long periods of time. The extreme stress that elephants endure in captivity and the serious threat that they pose to zoo visitors justify the ban. The housekeeping conditions in any zoo, including those in Turkmenistan, are not going to prevent any of the above concerns. Because our laws and regulations are driven by the ethics we follow and the compassion we have for our country’s animals – particularly elephants – the Ministry’s decision cannot be justified in any way. We must not allow Indian animals living elsewhere to be subjected to actions that would be illegal here.

Sir, for the sake of the animals and to uphold your commitment to the people of India, we respectfully ask for your immediate assurance that the Ministry will reconsider the decision to send Indian elephants to Turkmenistan. I can be contacted on [email protected].


Dr Manilal Valliyate
Director Veterinary Affairs
PETA India

cc: Shri BS Bonal, Central Zoo Authority