Stop Zimbabwe From Selling Baby Elephants to North Korea

May 27th, 2010 by Nicole Meyer


Two wild caught eighteen-month-old baby elephants will be sent from Zimbabwe to North Korea, as part of a sale that includes a variety of wildlife, including pairs of giraffe, zebra, antelope, hyenas, monkeys and birds. News sources are also reporting that as many as five other countries, including Japan and Mozambique, are requesting similar purchases of wild animals from Zimbabwe.

According to experts, the elephant calves may be too young to endure the cruel trauma of capture, separation from their mothers, and the 7,000-mile trip to North Korea. If they do survive, they almost certainly will not be held in conditions that meet their physical and psychological needs, ensuring a lifetime of suffering and a premature death. Other wild animals involved in the transfer are not expected to fare any better, compounding this unnecessary tragedy.

Elephants’ profound social bonds make separation of calves from their mothers highly traumatic for the baby and remaining family members, causing enormous suffering. In the wild, elephant mothers fiercely protect their young, whom they nurse until they are four years old. Calves never stray far from their mothers, and they enjoy the nurturing attention of other females in the family who help care for and rear them. Female offspring remain with their mothers for life.

IDA is a signatory, along with conservation groups, elephant experts, animal protection groups and biologists around the world, in support of a letter sent by world-renowned elephant authority and ElephantVoices co-director Dr. Joyce Poole to Zimbabwean leaders. In it she states:

“We urge you not to underestimate the impact on world opinion of the distressing sounds and imagery of elephant calves and juveniles being forcibly separated from their families, captured and then undergoing inhumane taming and training methods, and a lifetime of captivity in a country that is not known for its adherence to international standards and norms. These practices are totally unacceptable for an enlightened public and continuation is bound to lead to public petitions, campaigns, and increased negative publicity for Zimbabwe.”

Please help stop Zimbabwe from transferring these elephant calves and other wildlife to North Korea by writing a polite letter to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, urging him to do the right thing and cancel the sale. Tell him that you strongly oppose the export of baby elephants and other wildlife from their natural habitats, and urge him to show that Zimbabwe truly cares about preserving and protecting its wildlife heritage by halting the sale. Respectfully let him know that the world is watching.

To contact Prime Minister Tsvangirai, please:

1. Go to the website

2. On the horizontal menu near the top of the page, click on “Contacts” at the far right.

3. Send an email to the Prime Minister.