U.S. Zoos Request Import of African Elephants Under False Pretenses

Posted on November 24, 2015

Wild-Captured Elephants Would Be Imported for Profit, Not Conservation

For immediate release:

Natalia Lima, Natalia@PawsPR.com, 201 679 7088

african-elephant-article-image-230pxLOS ANGELES, CA — In a decade flush with elephant ‘retirements’ from circuses and zoos nationwide, three American zoos—the Dallas Zoo, the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas, and the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska—intend to import 18 wild-captured elephants from Swaziland, Africa.

Yesterday, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), PETA, Performing Animal Welfare Society, and captive wildlife attorney Deborah Robinson submitted formal comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service urging the agency to decline issuance of the permit necessary for the import.

The intended use of these 18 elephants is to further the captive breeding programs that have proven unsustainable in U.S. zoos. This intended plan would violate the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the treaty that regulates international trade in wildlife, which expressly defines captive breeding programs as “commercial activity” and prohibits the import of African elephants for such purposes.

“It is widely known and accepted that elephants do not thrive in zoos,” says Stephen Wells, executive director of Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Inhumane and unnatural conditions of captivity contribute to the aberrant behaviors, such as bobbing and weaving, and most elephants confined in zoos die prematurely due to health problems that are unique to captive populations. Captive elephant breeding programs are undertaken to boost zoo attendance, rather than repopulate range states or serve any legitimate conservation purpose.”

Further, elephants are family oriented—female elephants stay with their mothers for their entire lives, and male offspring stay with their mothers into their teens. The import would break up many family units.

If approved, after the import, fewer than 25 elephants would remain in Swaziland.

Comments are available for download (PDF).


47 thoughts on “U.S. Zoos Request Import of African Elephants Under False Pretenses

  1. Cassie Sorensen says:

    Stop this barbaric practice!

  2. Helena says:

    I hope this petition helps.

  3. Linda C.Phelan says:

    Please leave these animals in the wild where they belong. No one needs to see caged elephants in a zoo or circus or anyplace else other than in their own habitat.

  4. Linda Stevenson says:

    Leave the elephants in the wild where they belong! Zoos are not their natural habitat.

  5. Jeannie Roberts says:

    Leave the elephants at home in Africa! Please let them live free!!!

  6. Kat Milacek says:

    This would break up families that otherwise stay together for their entire lives.

  7. Jennifer Raupp says:

    Profit is not conservation. To profit from ripping a wild endangered animal away from its family unit and natural habitat and placing them in a too small artificial confined space us abhorrent. All so that humans can gawk at them and zoo gets richer

  8. Sharon Richardson says:

    Leave them in the wild where they belong

  9. Rita Mason says:

    The fact that they are saying they will shoot the elephants if this does not go through is nothing but extortion and we are going along simply to appease the zoo’s interests.

  10. Janis Bates says:

    I am against importing animals for Zoos. Let them be.

  11. Joseph Goyena says:

    This is evil. Making a request to import wild elephants under false pretence is criminal. Deforestation and land development along with exploitation have caused too much suffering to so many animals either displaced or abused for human entertainment. Those arseholes need to know what it’s like to be whipped and caged.

  12. Enough is enough. Have we learned nothing about animal rights.

  13. Deborah says:

    No reason to import them! Plenty born in captivity as it is!

  14. Lynnda weaver says:

    Please,please,do not do this! These animals dont deserve such horrid treatment! !! Let them live freely in their own habitat

  15. Leave the elephants in the wild where they belong! Zoos are not their natural habitat.

  16. sophia says:

    Stop this insanity. It is cruel, despicable and is about money, NOT ELEPHANT WELFARE which is what everything should be about.


  17. Jenni Wilhelms says:

    LEAVE THEM BE!!!!!!!

  18. Pauline st.denis says:

    Leave them alone ! Haven’t they been under seige . Help them stay in Africa !

  19. Julie Dougherty says:

    the barbaric trade of elephants must be stopped. These wonderful animals have a strong family bond and should not be separated from their family

  20. Tamyra Wallace says:

    The elephants need to stay in the wild. How could being in a zoo possibly be good for them?

  21. Trisha caceres says:

    Please have mercy on the dwindling population of wild elephants! There are several performing elephants that need to be retired that can be taken in. To rob wild elephants from their freedom Will only lead to trauma and damage once in captivity. They are not our to take as a possession. They belong to Earth and we share this planet with them. Please for once put yourself in their place. If you have children, imagine having your family broken apart so your child can be exploited and living behind bars never to live a life of love with their moms and siblings . Where is your human reasoning for ethics and morals?

    1. Peter parker says:

      his group of elephants lives in an area that has too many elephants for one area, and so this group is going to be culled, aka killed. The options for this group is to starve to death, be poached, be killed, or go to some of the best zoos in the country.

  22. Demetra Tseckares says:


  23. Carol Britton says:

    Please stop all captivity of wild animals. We have no right to end the freedom of these families. Please be heroes for our wildlife. The world is watching.
    Thank you.

    1. Peter parker says:

      So in other words, let all the endangered species die. Got it. You’re a great contributor for wildlife, I’m sure.

  24. Debra Henn says:

    It is past time to phase out using animals for human entertainment and profit!! Leave them where they belong!

  25. Michelle Bellin says:


  26. Tonya Rothe says:

    Zoos are NOT conservation. Leave elephants be!

  27. Mary Cannon says:

    The US sould halt all import of wild elephants.

  28. Myra Brodett says:

    Leave the elephants wild

  29. Michelle Ekdahl says:

    Leave them alone in their habitats in the wild. Protect them from extinction.

  30. Pamela Richardson says:

    Mortifying. LEAVE THEM ALONE.

    1. Peter parker says:

      his group of elephants lives in an area that has too many elephants for one area, and so this group is going to be culled, aka killed. The options for this group is to starve to death, be poached, be killed, or go to some of the best zoos in the country.

  31. HIDAYATTULAH says:

    let live freely in the wild for generations to come

  32. Janet Manulik says:

    Leave the elephants alone. Do not import them to the U.S. Zoos for the sake of breeding and profit. This is cruel and unusual punishment for the elephants who are known to be sentient, caring, gentle animals. Leave them in their natural habitat which is Africa!!!

  33. Alice Marino says:

    Noooo. This is beyond inhumane. It’s twisted sick. 😖

  34. Deanne Pattison says:

    For the love of what is decent, LEAVE these sensitive animals ALONE!!!

  35. Deanne Pattison says:

    For the love of what is decent, PLEASE leave these sensitive animals ALONE!!!!

  36. Eileen Macmillan says:

    Please, no more lies – and leave the animals free.

  37. Tina Selsmark says:

    Please leave the elephants wild

  38. Sandra Simpson says:

    Leave the elephants in Africa!! That is their home!!!

  39. Gail Christine says:


  40. Anna Lukaszewicz says:

    Please decline the permit and stop the proposed import of these magnificent animals.

  41. Randy Decker says:

    It is the most gut wrenching thing to see Elephants forced to be separated from the families they love so much. They are so scared, they cry and the families are shocked and poked trucks and horns and ropes and men.. Then those poor gentle intelligent loving babies live in one place the rest of thier lives. They dream of that place they never forget their families. Look up the story of Shirley and Jenny reunited after 25 years..! Watch the video.. You decide for yourself if these animals love and remember. They held each other everyday for the ten years they lived together before Jenny died. Reuniting after 25 years! They were not even family…! They were both in a horrible circus all those years ago when they met for a short time..and separated from each other like they were from their wild families before. Watch that video. Then decide if Elephants should be used as a living exhibit so SOME asshole can sell tickets to his zoo…! That is all this is. It is ticket sales and its for Money…! that they take these animals lives for. That Wild Life with the dangers Is the life they would want~ It is the life any of us would want. Prison is not conservation..! LEAVE THEM ALONE..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  42. Lesley Seager says:

    Leave them alone. They should be in the wild with their families, not living a life of captivity and possible abuse.

  43. Maureen Allen says:

    WHAT?! People in Dallas, Wichita, Omaha: tell your zoos you’re not interested in taking your kids to see miserable captive ellies! Tell your Governors, your TV stations, your newspapers!

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