Joburg Zoo dismisses activist's R1m offer for 3 elephants as a 'publicity stunt'

2019-07-04 19:15
Lammie the elephant at the Johannesburg Zoo.

Lammie the elephant at the Johannesburg Zoo. (Simon Sonnekus)

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The Johannesburg Zoo on Thursday dismissed environmental activist and wildlife filmmaker John Varty's R1m offer for its three elephants as a publicity stunt.

City Parks and zoo spokesperson Jenny Moodley told News24 that the offer was "another one of his typical publicity stunts", to which they would not be responding.

Varty made the offer in a Facebook post directed at the director of the zoo.

"I hereby offer to pay you R1 million for the three elephants presently in captivity…" the post reads.

Varty told TimesLive that it had been agreed worldwide that elephants were social animals that should not be confined to small enclosures, making them unsuitable for zoos.

Last month, the Johannesburg Zoo said it was ecstatic that it had acquired two mates to join the zoo's sociable but solitary elephant, Lammie, 39, who has been alone since the death of her partner Kinkel last year.

ALSO READ: Joburg zoo faces mounting pressure to free widowed elephant Lammie

Ramadiba, 22, a mature male, and Mopani, 19, a female, arrived at the zoo in June after it went through a thorough and lengthy process to acquire the legal permits for the elephants, it said in a statement.

This included making certain that the elephants were captive-bred, that the zoo had an approved elephant management plan that was compliant to best management practices set by the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD), and ensuring it was compliant with the Code of Ethics and the 5 Freedoms of Animal Welfare, adopted for 'Good Zoos' by the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria (WAZA), the statement read.

'Imprisonment'

Animal rights groups have called on Lammie to be moved to an elephant sanctuary, arguing that zoos are unhealthy for elephants.

The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) called the acquisition of the elephants "imprisonment", accusing the zoo of not having appropriate facilities to keep three elephants and that the environment was not conducive to their welfare.

The zoo countered that Lammie had been captive-bred since her birth at the zoo and was familiar with the environment and keepers.

One of the many requirements the zoo had to meet was that the enclosure would be large enough to accommodate the new animals. One hectare is required for four elephants, and the zoo currently has 1.5 hectares, which it nevertheless planned to enlarge.

The two new elephants' public debut is set for World Elephant Day on August 12 which, coincidentally, is on the same day that Lammie turns 40, News24 previously reported.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  zoo  |  elephants
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