Botswana News

Keeping elephants in UK zoos or safari parks to be banned

It is thought they suffer from mental illness and other physical issues such as arthritis in captivity (Picture: Getty Images / iStockphoto)

No new elephants will be allowed to be brought to UK zoos and safari parks in the future, it has been revealed.

It comes as the Government is set to receive the results of a report on the welfare of elephants in captivity.

It is understood the report advises against keeping them in zoos, as it causes them mental illness and other physical issues such as arthritis.

A senior source told The Daily Mail: ‘Once the current load of elephants die out we will say you can’t replace them.

‘It’s impossible to keep them in conditions where they are happy, the space is too small.

‘In the UK the biggest elephant enclosures are so minute. They grub up the environment so quickly too – they have an incredibly important role in that but if they are in such a small area they destroy everything.

‘It’s very likely we are going to say you can’t make elephants happy in zoos, we should instead be focusing on elephant conservation in areas that have elephants.’

New legislation, expected to be brought in by environment minister Zac Goldsmith, will prohibit importation of any new animals and the existing population will be allowed to die out naturally.

The Government will soon receive the results of a report on the welfare of elephants in captivity (Picture: Xinhua / Shutterstock)

The policy will be part of wider zoo reforms, announced in the Kept Animals Bill later this year.

Campaigners have warned for a long time that elephants, which are highly intelligent animals, suffer from mental illness in zoos.

The RSPCA also says it causes them a number of physical ailments too, including crippling arthritis.

They only live for 17 years on average, in comparison with more than 50 years in the wild.

Government officials told the paper the use of animals solely for entertainment will be phased out.

Mark Jones, from international animal welfare charity Born Free, said: ‘There are many species that don’t belong in zoos, elephants are very much one of those species.

‘It should be phased out, the needs of these very wide roaming, very complex social animals cannot be met in a captive environment.’

The legislation will bring to 70 years of elephants being kept in captivity in the UK.

There are 51 elephants in 11 zoos in the UK, including Woburn, Whipsnade, Colchester and Chester. It has been illegal for circuses to keep elephants since January 2020.

Elephants live in large herds in the wild and are migratory animals, with some travelling hundreds of miles every year.

The export of wild African elephants was banned in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa in 2019 unless a real conservation benefit can be proved.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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