Don't we know enough about elephants not to steal them from the wild? If you are one of the Stolen 18, the answer is no.
The “Stolen 18” are now 17 wild elephants from Swaziland, ages 6 to 25, (one has already died in a holding pen while still in Swaziland) who lived at two national parks, Mkhaya Game Reserve and Hlane National Park. They were rounded up and sold to 3 US zoos supposedly to make more room for endangered rhinos. There is an ongoing drought in Swaziland and this is supposedly putting a limit on the carrying capacity of the parks to handle both the Rhino and elephant populations. There were only about 35 elephants in all of Swaziland. Now about half of them have been sold to three zoos in the United States (the Dallas Zoo,the Henry Doorly Zoo and the Sedwick County Zoo).
Last week the elephants were drugged and shipped to America before a court hearing could take place to keep them at least free and together in their family groups and on the African continent. Now they are here in a strange country and divided up among three different zoos, where they will be on display in small enclosures ranging in size from 5 to 25 acres for the rest of their lives. They shall never again see their other family members, never again range large open spaces nor share again their intimate knowledge of place.
We all know by now, because science has told us, that elephants are wide ranging mammals (they range for miles) that they are self aware, mourn their dead and care deeply about their family connections. We know too, that they know their homelands intimately and pass on knowledge about them through the generations.
Probably these zoos will have placards in front of the elephant enclosures telling the public just these very facts, while behind the fences will be these once wild, free and family connected elephants, “the Stolen 18”, that have been removed, stolen by these zoos from their homelands and loved ones. Traumatized for ever and even worse hidden behind a lie of conservation and salvation.
This is so wrong in this day and age. There are solutions that could have been found to save these elephants without culling them or shipping them all the way to the United States, without throwing them in zoos and removing them from their families, without taking away their freedom and knowledge of what they have known. It is a lie to think this could ever be any form of education. All it is, is criminal and sadly almost irreversible in its scope.
It would take many brave and courageous people, lots of money and other resources to return these elephants to their homes again. It would be almost an impossible feat. But then again, strength, miracles and solutions do happen when the right people are listening. I pray for such a miracle for these unjustly treated creatures. I hope this is the last time a wild elephant will ever be placed in any zoo anywhere for any reason. In my opinion a zoo is no answer of any kind for a wild elephant.