The National Council of SPCAs berated the Johannesburg Zoo for an event held recently where elephants, including beloved Lammie, pictured, were allegedly forced to perform circus tricks. Picture: Timothy Bernard African News Agency (ANA)
The ongoing spat between the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) and the Joburg Zoo over the fate of elephants continues, with the association saying the zoo is “a circus run by clowns from the top down”.

Meg Wilson of the SPCA said it was “appalled” at the way in which the elephants were exploited on World Elephant Day earlier this month.

“We witnessed the elephants being forced to perform circus tricks and were visibly stressed.”

As if it is not enough to move two more elephants from a semi-wild environment and condemn them to a life of incarceration in inadequate facilities; these majestic, intelligent, and incredible creatures were forced to perform circus tricks, she said.

“These animals have already been through hell in training them; elephants are beaten into submission, chained and tortured to be able to perform these tricks. Now they are being forced to perform these tricks in the name of entertainment. To ensure continued support of a zoo that clearly does not care about their animals.”

The Joburg Zoo, however, has defended its stance. Chairperson of the board Edgar Neluvhalani highlighted the growing plight of dwindling populations of elephants due to poaching, climate change, habitat loss, urbanisation and human-elephant conflict. “Zoos need to work with all stakeholders to contribute to captive-managed elephant research and studies.”

Managing director of Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo, Bryne Maduka said: “The Joburg Zoo remains complaint with all legislated obligations, including the strict set of code of ethics developed by the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria and the requirements of the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

“World Elephant Day at the zoo ensured that visitors left with a heightened awareness of the environment that they live in and outlined the important role each one of us has in protecting the rich ecology.”