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Thai elephant protesters spot on

Thai elephant protesters spot on

Greens MP and animal welfare spokesperson Lee Rhiannon today congratulated animal welfare protesters in Thailand for their efforts to frustrate the export of Thai elephants to Australia and called for Taronga Zoo’s new million dollar elephant enclosure to become a retirement home for circus elephants.

“The NSW and Victorian government’s plans to bring these wild animals to Australia and keep them in captivity should be cancelled and funding put into conservation programs instead,” Ms Rhiannon said.

“Many years ago I worked with elephants as a young zoo keeper at Taronga, and later at Regents Park Zoo.

“This experience taught me that the most ethical approach to these wonderful, wild animals is to spend money on conservation programs in their native habitat.

“The $40M Asian rainforest built to house the Thai elephants at Taronga Zoo should be used for the six circus elephants in NSW that are now nearing retirement age.

“NSW should follow the lead of the Federal government that recently contributed funding to in situ elephant conservation programs in Cambodia and Sumatra.

“For elephants to be held in zoos they must become subservient to humans. To achieve this Thai animal handlers place baby elephants into cages for days and tie their legs together. They get beaten with sticks and picks are stabbed into extremely sensitive areas around their head and ears.

“Recent UK research shows it costs 50 times more to keep an elephant in a Western zoo then conserve them in the wild. A minimum of $70,000 a year is needed to keep an elephant at Taronga Zoo, money more sensibly put into conservation programs.

“Taronga Zoo wants these Thai elephants to boost its profits, not for conservation.

“Elephants are very difficult to breed in zoos, with no captive breeding program ever being successful in Australasia,” Ms Rhiannon said.

© Scoop Media

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