Picture: Picture: Smaragda Louw

The Johannesburg Zoo is suing Ban Animal Trading (BAT) and the National Council of SPCAs for criticizing their World Elephant Day 'celebrations' and for sharing footage of the zoo's traumatized elephants online.

BAT’s video showed the bewildered and visibly traumatised  elephants in front of scores of excited visitors. It has been viewed more than 38 000 times on Facebook. 

Photos also show one elephant performing tricks in front of the press while Lammie was kept locked away from the media for hours. 

Howeve rmaking elephants  perform tricks directly contravenes the zoo’s updated elephant management plan.  

Joburg Zoo says the posts are defamatory. The lawyers’ letter to BAT demands that they be withdrawn and an apology be issued. The NSPCA confirms they’ve received similar legal documents.  

BAT shared the lawyers' letter online, saying "Free the Johannesburg Zoo Elephants!". They say it's concerning that the zoo would use taxpayers’ money to sue Non-Profit Organisations working in the interest of animals. 

The Zoo was previously criticized for squandering public funds when they paid almost R1 million more than the market rate for its two new elephants. 

Conservation Action Trust