SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL BIODIVERSITY INSTITUTE ANNOUNCES THE DECISION TO RETIRE CHARLIE THE ELEPHANT FROM THE PRETORIA ZOO

The Members of the Pro Elephant Network have supported the EMS Foundation during their nineteenth month transparent process of negotiation with Minister Barbara Creecy and representatives from the South African National Biodiversity Institute with regards to seeking the best possible future options for Charlie, the solitary bull elephant at the Pretoria zoo in South Africa.

We highly commend the forward thinking decision of Minister Creecy and SANBI to retire Charlie from the Pretoria zoo, a decision which was announced today, 29th of July 2022.

We will continue to offer our extensive expertise during this ongoing process, in order to make sure that all the correct decisions are reached for Charlie.

Image Credit: EMS Foundation November 2021

©Pro Elephant Network 2022. All Rights Reserved.

MINISTRY CREECY INVITES PREN ELEPHANT EXPERTS TO ACCESS CHARLIE THE ELEPHANT AT THE PRETORIA ZOO

27th April 2022

FORMAL ANNOUNCEMENT

CHARLIE, THE ELEPHANT AT THE PRETORIA ZOO

The Members of the Pro Elephant Network wish to publicly confirm that on Friday 21st April 2022 they received a formal invitation from Barbara Creecy, the Minister for Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment to assemble a team of Elephant experts to assess the mental and physical health and well-being of Charlie the Elephant living at the Pretoria Zoo in South Africa.

Minister Creecy has, furthermore, given the assurance that she has provided the Chairperson of the South African Biodiversity Institute the authority to provide access to Charlie.

The Members of PREN wish to publicly express their gratitude to Minister Creecy for supporting their initiative to provide Charlie the opportunity of the best available expertise.

Arrangements are currently underway to assemble a team with the appropriate competencies to carry out this complex evaluation.

Stefania Falcon
PREN Coordinator 

Image Credit: EMS Foundation November 2021

©The Pro Elephant Network 2022. All Rights Reserved.

PREN ENDORSES THE PUBLIC STATEMENT OF CONCERN FOR CHARLIE AT THE PRETORIA ZOO

13th April 2022

The Co-ordinator of PREN has, today, addressed an open letter to the Honourable Minister, Barbara Creecy of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, the letter was also addressed to the Chief Executive Officer of the South African National Biodiversity Institute and the letter was addressed to the Executive Director of the National Zoological Gardens.

COPY OF THE OPEN LETTER:

ENDORSEMENT OF THE EMS FOUNDATION PUBLIC STATEMENT OF CONCERN FOR CHARLIE AT THE PRETORIA ZOO

The Pro Elephant Network (PREN) as an international community of diverse individuals and organizations, comprising specific expertise, on wild and captive African and Asian elephants, including the fields of science, health, conservation, welfare, economics, community leadership, social justice and the law, has been respectively engaging with the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment and meeting with SANBI, since December 2020. 

On the 16th December 2020 members of PREN alerted the Honourable Minister to their concerns regarding the mental and physical well-being and welfare of Charlie, the bull elephant at the Pretoria Zoo. 

PREN members have subsequently repeatedly requested that Charlie undergo an assessment by independent, renown elephant experts and, if the results of the assessments are in favour, that he be allowed to follow a rehabilitation program for reintegration in a more suitable natural environment, in collaboration with the Zoo and the EMS Foundation, a Member of PREN. 

We are aware of the arduous and fruitless engagement process that took place between the EMS Foundation and SANBI representatives during 2021.  

PREN fully endorses the actions of the EMS Foundation which includes the public statement of the 7th of April  2022. 

PREN hereby formally requests once again that the South African Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment and SANBI, grant access to Charlie in order for an urgent, independent veterinary and behavioural assessment to be carried out.  

We remain concerned for Charlie’s physical and mental well-being.  

The following Pro Elephant Network Members signed in support of this open letter:

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 

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 

Megan Carr                               Founder, Rhinos in Africa  

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

Dr Betsy Coville                          Exotic / Wildlife Animal Veterinarian 

Dr Harvey Croze                        DPhil (Oxon) Collaborating Researcher – Amboseli Trust for Elephants – Kenya 

Nomusa Dube                           Founder, Zimbabwe Elephant Foundation

David Ebert                               Advocate, Founder Director of The Animal Defense Partnership – USA

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

Daniela Freyer                           Co-Founder, Pro Wildlife, Germany

Michele Franko                          Captive Elephant Caregiver and Advocate – USA

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

Dr Toni Frohoff                          Ethologist and Behavioral Biologist, Founder of TerraMar Research  

Dr Marion E. Garai                     Elephant Behaviour Specialist – South Africa 

Dr Ross Harvey                         Environmental Economist, Botswana   

Heike Henderson-Altenstein       Director, Future for Elephants e.V. 

Alok Hisarwala Gupta                 Lawyer, Animal Law – India 

Iris Ho                                       Head of Policy – Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA)

Peter Hodgskin                          Founder, Hands-off Fernkloof, South Africa 

Sangita Iyer                               B.Sc., M.A., Founder of Voice for Asian Elephants Society, Nat Geo Explorer and  Wildlife Filmmaker

Lynne James                             Independent, Elephant Conservation,  Zimbabwe

Dr Mark Jones                           Veterinarian, Born Free Foundation – UK

David Kabambo                         Founder Director of Peace for Conservation – Wildlife Management – Tanzania

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 – Kenya 

Dr Winnie Kiiru                          Founder, Conservation Kenya

Brigitte Kornetzky                      President and Founder of Elefanten in Not  – Switzerland / India 

Professor Bob Jacobs                Neuroscience Researcher – Colorado College – USA

Kahindi Lekalhaile                      Africa Network for Animal Welfare, Kenya 

Dr Smaragda Louw                    Director, Ban Animal Trading, South Africa 

Dr Keith Lindsay                        Conservation Biologist, Amboseli Trust for Elephants – Kenya; Fondation Franz Weber

Giorgio Lombardi                       Warden Vogelgat Private Nature Reserve, South Africa 

Linda Masudze                          Advocate 4 Earth, Zimbabwe 

Varda Mehrotra                         Environmentalist, Climate Crisis Researcher – India  

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

Sharon Pincott                           Elephant Behavioural Specialist, ex-Hwange, Zimbabwe  

Bharati Ramachandran              CEO of the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations – India

Ian Redmond OBE                     Founder, African Ele-Fund and Elefriends Campaign, Chairman of Ape Alliance and Co-founder of Rebalance Earth  

Ingo Schmidinger                       Elephant Husbandry – Co-Founder iScapes 

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

Dr DJ Schubert                          Wildlife Biologist, Animal Welfare Institute – USA 

Dr Liz Tyson                              Animal Welfare Law, Programs Director  – Born Free USA 

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

Vasanthi Vadi                            Trustee of the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations – India 

Prof Dan Wylie                          Rhodes University, South Africa 

Image Credit: EMS Foundation November 2021

©The Pro Elephant Network 2022. All Rights Reserved.

PREN EXPERTS COMMENTS ON THE DFFE SOUTH AFRICAN DRAFT POLICY POSITION

READ THE FULL SUBMISSION HERE:

Member of the Pro Elephant Network welcome a Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Draft Policy Position which has a broad vision of “secured, restored and rewilded natural landscapes with thriving populations of elephant, lion, rhino and leopard as indicators for a vibrant, responsible, inclusive, transformed and sustainable wildlife sector and an equitable society living in harmony with natural resources.”

The Pro Elephant Network members strongly and specifically support a phase-out of captive elephants in South African zoos, with the proviso that all due-care must be provided to elephants currently in captivity. The PREN elephant specialists would be happy to work with the South African authorities to identify the most appropriate solutions for these elephants.

IMAGE CREDIT: Dr Smaragda Louw Ban Animal Trading Johannesburg Zoo 28th July 2021

© Copyright Pro Elephant Network 2021. All rights reserved.

NATIONAL ZOOLOGICAL GARDENS South Africa

A Brief History of the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa Prepared for the Pro Elephant Network

THE FOUNDING OF THE NATIONAL ZOOLOGICAL GARDENS  ALSO KNOWN AS THE PRETORIA ZOO

The Transvaal National Museum of Natural History, now known as the Ditsong Museum, was founded on the 1st December 1892. 

Dr J.W.B. Gunning was appointed as the director in 1897. 

The Museum holds large collections of mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates the Museum is located in central Pretoria, the capital of South Africa. 

A comprehensive series of educational programmes is offered to schools and students in a various South African languages.

Elephant exhibits at Ditsong Museum of Natural History, Pretoria  IMAGE CREDIT Getty Images

Gunning acted as the keeper of mammalian and ornithological collections. 

A collection of live animals acquired by Gunning were kept in the garden at the back of the Museum, these live animals formed the nucleus of the Transvaal Zoological Gardens which then developed into Pretoria’s National Zoological Gardens.

PREN REQUESTS AN URGENT MEETING WITH MINISTER CREECY

Wednesday 17th February 2021

Dear Minister Barbara Creecy,

SUBJECT OF MEETING: THE PROVISION OF SCIENTIFIC AND ELEPHANT EXPERT INPUT WITH REGARD TO A DECISION MAKING PROCESS FOR CHARLIE, THE ELEPHANT, AT THE PRETORIA ZOO IN SOUTH AFRICA

The Pro Elephant Network (PREN) hereby formally requests an urgent online meeting with the Honourable Minister to be attended by leading elephant experts and scientists.

The experts and scientists listed below have offered to assist the Honourable Minister, in order so that the best possible solution can be achieved for Charlie.

We, refer to our letter dated the 16th of December 2020 and we thank the Minister for her acknowledgement receipt of the same on the 17th December 2020.

The members of PREN are, however, becoming increasingly concerned about the physical and mental well-being of Charlie and the inadequate conditions provided for elephants at the National Zoological Gardens, in Pretoria.

Landa’s, Charlie’s companion, post mortem results and medical reports, which were also included in our letter to the Minister in December 2020, suggest the apparent consumption of sand by the elephants at the National Zoological Gardens. The consumption of sand could lead to serious if not fatal consequences. Charlie is also manifesting stereotypical behaviour of a highly stressed elephant.

The members of PREN are further concerned about the recent statement made in Parliament  “The National Zoological Garden is currently considering options as to whether to find a companion for our one remaining elephant” as reported in an article of February the 6th 2021. Acquiring more elephants is not the correct solution for Charlie, nor for the benefit of the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria.

CHARLIE

South African National Day of Reconciliation, 16th December 2020, 

AN OPEN LETTER TO MINISTER BARBARA CREECY REQUESTING THE RELEASE OF ELEPHANT CHARLIE AT THE NATIONAL ZOOLOGICAL GARDENS INTO THE CARE OF ANIMAL PROTECTION ORGANISATIONS

INTRODUCTION

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. 

Zoos are places where wild animals are kept in captivity and are put on public display. Across the world wild animals are sold to and incarcerated in zoos for the controversial purpose of human entertainment and so-called education.  

Recently, the members of the Wildlife Animal Protection Forum of South Africa wrote an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa questioning the relevance of zoos in a democratic South Africa of the twenty-first century. 

The history of elephants in zoos in South Africa is one of extreme exploitation, violence and death, which saw baby elephants, mainly between the ages of two and seven, violently removed from their mothers and families, who were often killed in front of them, through the highly contested and contentious practice of culling―a methodology introduced by the Apartheid state at the height of the ivory trade.  

PREN is of the view that the elephant care standards adopted in South Africa zoos are woefully inadequate, unethical and untenable. Elephants live highly complex social and emotional lives and are defined by space and movement. Elephant cannot survive in near or complete isolation. Zoos rob elephants of their most basic needs and for this reason there is a high mortality rate. 

THE PRETORIA ZOO

The National Zoological Garden of South Africa, the Pretoria zoo, is the largest zoo in the country and eighth largest in the world and was founded in 1899. The zoo covers 85 hectares of land in central Pretoria. The South African National Biodiversity Institute known as SANBI was established on the 1st September 2004 through the signing into force of the National environmental Management Biodiversity Act 10 of 2004 by President Thabo Mbeki.  SANBI manages the National Botanical and Zoological Gardens.  SANBI’s mandate is to reveal and celebrate biodiversity for the benefit, enjoyment and education of all South Africans. 

The welfare of elephants in zoos is directly dependent upon the quality of life they experience, which in turn is driven by the understanding the zoo keeper has of the specific needs of elephants. 

This understanding may or may not be informed by scientific knowledge.   Sub-optimal conditions and husbandry practices can result in injury, disease and poor mental health.  It is critical that environmental conditions, management and husbandry techniques are employed that promote positive physical and psychological health for all elephants in human care. Currently a well-publicized, worldwide debate between zoos and animal protection and welfare groups about elephants in captivity is taking place.  At issue is whether zoos can provide enough space to properly care for elephants.  This This dispute has led several zoos to eliminate or phase out their elephant programs.  

We are concerned about the high number of deaths of elephants at the Pretoria zoo we would like to highlight some of the details surrounding the history of some of the elephants.