Anne was examined by a veterinary expert from the Whipsnade Zoo in the United Kingdom who offered Anne a long-term residency with their elephants after her recovery period at Longleat Safari Park. The Performing Animal Welfare Society based in California, USA, which specialises in rehabilitating animals that have lived in captivity also offered Anne a place at its sanctuary, as did The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, also in the USA, although at the time Anne would not have been fit enough to make such a long journey. 

The upsetting footage of Anne being abused was released to the Daily Mail and as a result Anne became an instant international celebrity with journalists from as far afield as Brazil requesting access to her. 

ADI was not pleased that Anne was put on public display, but recognised that Longleat is not primarily an animal welfare organisation but rather a multi-million pound entertainment company. 

An appeal was launched in unison with the Daily Mail in April 2011 to build an elephant sanctuary for four elephants at Longleat. More than £410 000 was raised to create a permanent home for Anne and other rescued elephants. Planning applications for the elephant sanctuary were submitted in February 2013. 

Bob Montgomery, CEO of the safari park, subsequently stated that experts had recommended that Anne should live out her life alone.  “Elephants are social animals but that becomes much more subjective when you’re talking about an older elephant and unless we are able to find a suitable companion – right age, right temperament – the concern would be that the wrong companion would do more harm than good.”

In April 2015, Longleat Safari Park completed the construction of a £1.2 million “elephant mansion”.  According to published descriptions it features 1,000 square yards of deep sand floors, heated to a constant eighteen degrees Celsius and skylights ensure it is always light and there are automated feeding and water providing systems. 

ADI said that they welcomed any improvement in Anne’s accommodation but were dismayed to learn that Anne would be alone. Anne has lived as a solitary elephant since 2011 at Longleat Safari Park. Some wildlife  campaigners are advocating that she be moved, on the basis that the management and owners of Longleat have reneged on promises to rescue other elephants to provide company for Anne. There are currently two online petitions which have attracted more than 400,000 signatures calling for her to be relocated.

One of the suggested proposals is that Anne be moved to a newly-created sanctuary in France. The Elephant Haven, the European Elephant Sanctuary, is situated on the outskirts of a natural park near Limoges. If Anne moves there it is hoped that she would eventually be joined by other elephants.

The Elephant Haven is advertised as sanctuary for retired and rescued zoo and circus elephants. Although it is yet to receive any animals.  Its stated mission is to offer elephants the opportunity of resocialisation and rehabilitation.  The facility could potentially provide Anne with a more extensive paddock in which to roam and forage and, in addition, the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region offers a mild climate which would be better for Anne’s arthritis than the harsh British winter climate. 

Animal Defenders International, which exposed Anne’s abuse, backs a move to The Elephant Haven, in the hope that she could soon be with others of her kind after so many years living alone.

President of ADI, Jan Creamer, said: “Elephants are social, intelligent animals who need the company of their own kind. Having worked so hard to expose the abuse, ADI want nothing more than for Anne to have a friend. We hope it’s not too late.”

A spokesman for the safari park has said that since Anne moved to Longleat her health and overall condition has “advanced significantly”.  He added: “Anne is now in her sixties and, in addition to her great age, she has also had to contend with the physical and mental hardships of spending almost 50 years performing in a circus.

Given Anne’s age, limited mobility due to arthritis, compromised health, and the fact she has lived a large part of her life without other elephants we strongly believe her current situation is the best option at this time. 

We believe there would be a massive and unjustifiable risk in attempting to move Anne to a new home.  We also entirely understand and sympathise with the genuine belief some people have that, despite all of Anne’s very specific issues, she would benefit from the company of other elephants.  The overwhelming opinion among elephant experts familiar with Anne’s case is that the stresses and risks involved with transporting her are unacceptable.”

John Robins, of pressure group Animal Concern, followed Anne around Scotland during years of campaigning to have animal acts banned.  

He said: “This is a sad end to a very sad story. Anne spent her life constricted in beast wagons and chained by three legs inside circus tents but at least she had the company of others of her own kind. Now she has space and freedom at Longleat but no companions to share it with.”

Scott Blais, co-founder of Global Sanctuary for Elephants has given a written statement to the Action for Elephants UK organisation in which he states: “It goes without saying we all hold gratitude to Longleat for receiving Anne, which permitted her removal from the circus. Under the care of Longleat, Anne’s physical condition has improved.  There are indications of improved muscle tone and based on video analysis, she appears to have increased mobility.  Unfortunately Anne remains with limited space and without companionship, both of which are fundamental for Anne’s continued recover and rehabilitation.”

The Pro Elephant Network (PREN) consists of a global community of diverse individuals and organization, comprising expertise from both western academies (including the fields of science, conservation, animal welfare, economics, community leadership, social justice and the law) and the indigenous paradigm. 

The undersigned Members of PREN support the call by Action for Elephants UK and ADI which is also supported by Born Free Foundation and Four Paws International, for an independent professional assessment of Anne’s physical and mental health and current situation, in order to establish whether she is able to be moved, and if so whether a move would be beneficial to her long-term health and well-being.  

The undersigned Members also call for short-term action to be taken to improve enrichment and provide a swimming pool, scratching opportunities, shade and mud wallow that she can actually utilise at Longleat Safari Park. This work should be undertaken whether or not Anne is ultimately moved to The Elephant Haven.

This letter authored by Megan Carr, Founder of Rhinos in Africa

This letter is supported by the following members of the Pro Elephant Network:

Owais Awan ,Advocate High Court, Islamabad

Suparna Baksi-Ganguly, President and Co-Founder, Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation Center, Bangalore, India

Dr Brett Bard, Veterinarian, South Africa 

Lucy Bates, Independent Researcher, Elephant Husbandry

Dr Jessica Bell Rizzolo, Postdoctoral Researcher, the Conservation Criminology Lab, Dep of Fisheries and  Wildlife, Michigan State University

Janey Clegg, Committee Member, SPCA Mutare, Zimbabwe

Professor David Bilchitz,  Director, South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public and Human Rights and International Law  – South Africa 

Dr Gay Bradshaw, Director, Kerulos Center for Nonviolence – USA

Lenin Chisaira,  Founder, Advocates 4 Earth – Green Law Connect, Zimbabwe

Dr Betsy Coville, Wildlife Veterinarian – USA

Nomusa Dube,  Founder, Zimbabwe Elephant Foundation

Stefania Falcon,   Co-Founder, Future 4 Wildlife, South Africa  

Michele Franko, Senior Research Associate – Elephant Care & Wellbeing at the Kerulos Center for Nonviolence – USA

Chief Stephen Fritz,  Chief, South Peninsula Khoi Council – South Africa 

Dr Marion E. Garai,  Elephant Behavior Specialist  – Elephant Reintegration Trust, South Africa  

Georgina Groves, Independent Elephant Behavior Specialist  

Rachel Harris, Managing Director, Elephant Human Relationship Aid, Namibia

Dr Ross Harvey, Environmental Economist, Botswana   

Heike Henderson-Altenstein, Future 4 Elephants e.V. 

Alok Hissarwala Gupta,  Elephant Specialist, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations

Iris Ho, Senior Wildlife Specialist, The Humane Society International 

Peter Hodgskin, Founder, Hands-off Fernkloof, South Africa  

Lynne James, Independent, Elephant Conservation,  Zimbabwe

Dr Paula Kahumbu, WildlifeDirect, Kenya  

Professor Mohan Kharel, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal

Nuria Maldonado,  Ecologist, Environmental Science, Max Plank Institute

Jim Karani, Advocate, Lawyers for Animal Protection in Africa

Dr Winnie Kiiru,  Founder, Conservation Kenya

Rob Laidlaw,  Executive Director Zoocheck Canada 

Kahindi Lekalhaile, Africa Network for Animal Welfare, Kenya 

Dr Smaragda Louw, Director, Ban Animal Trading, South Africa 

Giorgio Lombardi, Warden Vogelgat Private Nature Reserve, South Africa 

Linda Masudze, Advocate 4 Earth, Zimbabwe 

Varda Mehrotra,  Executive Director, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations 

Mary Morrison, Advocate, WildlifeDirect, Kenya

Nurzhafarina Binti Othman Founder: Seratu Aatai, PhD, Elephant Conservation and Research Coordinator at HUTAN-KOCP

Sharon Pincott, Elephant Behavioural Specialist, ex-Hwange, Zimbabwe  

Michele Pickover,  Director, EMS Foundation, South Africa

Dr Yolanda Pretorius, SA Wildlife College, Elephant Behavioural Specialist, South Africa  

Ingo Schmidinger, Elephant Husbandry – iScapes 

Dr Jan Schmidt-Burbach, Veterinarian, Head of Wildlife Research and Animal Welfare, World Animal Protection International

Antoinette Van de Water,  Director, Bring the Elephant Home, South Africa  

Prof Dan Wylie, Rhodes University, South Africa 

Julie Woodyer,  Elephant Captivity – Zoocheck Canada 

IMAGE CREDIT: The Daily Mail United Kingdom

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