Story by Etay-
Every year on my birthday, i have visited the Jerusalem zoo. in there were many animals but one species has fascinated me the most, The Asian Elephant. i have been fascinated with them ever since i watched the 1967 cartoon movie “The Jungle Book” where an “army” of elephants was seem marching around and having funny military moments.
In the Zoo. there are now four Elephants, Tamar, the matriach. Suzan, her “best friend”, Michaella and Teddy, a bull elephant named after Jerusalem’s former mayor. a baby named Gabi was sold to a turkish zoo in 2010 and another elephant named abigail died from miscarriage in 2009.
Every day at 12:30 the zoo did what they called the “Elephant show” where they showed us how they train the elephants using “free contact”. a method where keepers and elephants live togheter without a seperation. they told us Elephants are “marching” around the zoo every morning just like in the movie. but for thier excersize and not for comic relief(they walk 20 kilometers a day in the wild and this is impossible in the tiny enclosure).
But one day in 2013 during my final year at highschool. an animal rights or enviormental organization said that elephants will become extinct in a decade with the current ivory demands in china. and i “knew” that zoos are trying to solve the problem by breeding elephants with healthy genes to eventually reintroduce them to the wild, Gabi i mentioned earlier was bred and moved as a part of it using artificial insemention
A few days later, i heard that the elephants at the Toronto zoo were going to the PAWS sanctuary. at first i thought it was a part of the zoo breeding program and that a sanctuary was only a large “Disney-fied” zoo. but they were so happy it was a sanctuary and not another zoo i didn’t know why so i researched. here are the facts i find, all said by elephant experts:
Zoo elephants suffer: the tiny encosures are a small fraction of the space elephants get in the wild, and so Elephants that in the wild will naturally walk for food and water will spend most of the day bored, getting sick and fat and mabye fighting with elephants they hate.
Free contact, Extra suffer: the zoo claims free contact helps maintain elephant health and allows them to excersize. i thought it is voluntary and the zoo said so too. but it isn’t it relies on beating the elephant with chains and bullhooks until he gives up and will do anything said when he is young and Using the chains and hooks to punish the elephant if he disobeys, Elephant rides need free contact so they are technically cruel this way, and even more with the weight of the seat(the zoo does them in winters). A zoo with protected contact in less brutal. but elephants will get bored and unexcersized in the small space.
Breeding is Greeding and not conservation: this was very hard for me to take and i did research. when i visited the sites of the two sanctuaries at the USA, i was surprised they are against breeding and don’t want to breed elephants. i did further research and learned that Artifical insemention, the way they made Gabi, is cruel and that Elephants never got released to the wild. also i learned that the population of zoo elephants declined over the years due to improper diet and lack of excersize as well as beating.
after that i thought that breeding elephants in sanctuaries will save the species. i still wonder to date if it will work but i found it doesn’t delete habitat loss, poaching, trophy hunting and capture for circuses which are the main threats for elephants today.
I am glad i learned my lesson and opened an awareness raising page on facebook to carry it further called israel for elephants.
Also, here is a video of elephants being abused at the jerusalem zoo i took before i learned the truth that i would like to share and expose the zoo:
thanks for reading