The two new elephants Ramadiba, 22 and Mopani, 19, explore their night room for the first time at the Joburg Zoo.
Joburg Zoo has defended its stance in getting two more elephants after a verbal attack and threat of legal action by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA).

As the largest terrestrial animals on earth, the new elephants will form part of the Big 5 offering at the zoo to actively promote conservation and environmental education, especially to the 300000 children that visit the zoo annually, said City of Joburg’s MMC for community development Nonhlanhla Sifumba.

Joburg zoo, she said, went through a thorough and lengthy process to acquire the legal permits for the elephants. 

This included making certain that the elephants are captive-bred, that the zoo has an approved elephant management plan that is compliant with best management practices set by the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD), and to ensuring it complies with with the code of ethics and the five Freedoms of Animal Welfare, adopted for Good Zoos by the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria.

Sifumba said the two healthy pachyderms secured a clean bill of health and arrived at the zoo with the veterinary doctor and their keeper last week.

Ramadiba, 22, a male, and Mopani, 19, a female will be allowed to get accustomed to their surroundings before they make their public debut, she said.

The celebrations are set for World Elephant Day, on August 12 which, coincidentally, is on the same day that Lammie turns 40.

“This is not about gate-takings, but about deepening our understanding of the importance of the ecology found on our planet and to ensure that every child gets to see and hear the trumpeting of the African elephant, in Africa,” she said.

Sifumba said: “Trust, empathy, simulated-enrichment, medical care, nutritional support and the in-depth knowledge of how to manage elephants within a zoo environment remains a priority and is of paramount importance for the care of the ‘two tons of fun’, that will now call Joburg Zoo, their home.”

The NSPCA, which has been desperately fighting for Lammie to be released back into the wild, said it was “devastated that the zoo had brought in another two elephants into a captive environment that is detrimental to any elephant’s well-being.”

Spokesperson Meg Wilson said the society was currently consulting with its lawyers: “In spite of the NSPCA addressing legal communications to the Joburg Zoo, and enquiries with GDARD, two elephants were relocated to the zoo on June 13.

“The NSPCA has been made aware of allegations made by the zoo that had the society remained on the Animal Ethics and Scientific Committee, the matter of the acquisition would have been brought to its attention.”