February 14th, 2013 by Nicole Meyer
Tania is a 37-year-old elephant suffering a life of solitary confinement at the Targu-Mures Zoo in Romania, transferred from an Italian zoo in September. Although the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria requires that zoos house female elephants in groups, Tania continues to languish without the company of other elephants. This is cruel punishment for female elephants, who are profoundly social.
Tania was captured in the wild in the 1970s, likely prematurely separated from her mother and other family members. She was then sent to a zoo in France where she appears to have lived alone for more than 20 years.
Observers note that since her arrival at Targu-Mures Zoo, Tania has been forced to live indoors in a tiny barren cell standing on concrete, often in her own urine and feces. The zoo industry reportedly claims that Tania does not get along with other elephants. Yet, zoos often use this claim to justify housing solitary elephants when, in fact, it is the unnatural conditions at zoos that deprive elephants of their most basic needs—room to move and more natural social groupings. Tania also repeatedly rocks and sways, which is a coping mechanism indicating she is in psychological distress.
Please write a polite letter to the European Commissioner for the Environment, who is responsible for implementing and enforcing the EU Zoo Directive. Urge the Commissioner to investigate Tania’s situation, and work toward raising standards to improve the lives of millions of zoo animals in the European Union.
Mr. Janez Potocnik, Commissioner for the Environment
Also, ask the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria to take immediate action to alleviate Tania’s suffering and integrate her with other elephants.
EAZA Executive Office
Dr. Lesley Dickie, Executive Director
c/o Artis Zoo – Amsterdam
PO Box 20164
1000 HD Amsterdam