Animal rights group sues to prevent US zoos from importing African elephants

Friends of Animals have filed a lawsuit to prevent 18 African elephants being shipped to the US

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The Independent US

An animal rights group is attempting to prevent three zoos from bringing African elephants back to the United States.

Campaign group “Friends of Animals” filed a lawsuit in federal court last week to prevent the zoos in Dallas, Kansas and Nebraska from acquiring six African elephants each, The Wichita Eagle reported.

The lawsuit alleges that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) did not consider how the transfer would negatively affect the physical and mental states of the elephants - they are “kidnapped from the wild and their families” in order to be transported overseas.

“Zoo captivity fails miserably to allow elephants to thrive, let alone successfully reproduce. There is no excuse for taking these incredible animals from their natural homes to restock zoos,” said Dr Toni Frohoff, an elephant scientist, for In Defense of Animals.

The move follows activists from “In Defense of Animals” criticising USFWS last month for planning to allow more than a dozen young elephants from Swaziland into zoos in Dallas, Kansas and Nebraska. 

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has also criticised the USFWS for allowing the zoos to take in the animals. 

PETA officials claimed that the elephants would not thrive in a small enclosure as they would in the wild and that time in the zoo would lead to trauma. PETA also argued that the baby elephant display was created to boost ticket sales and did not adequately take the elephants’ well-being into account.

The USFWS is responsible for issuing organizations like zoos permits to bring foreign animals into the country. The agency has issued permits for 18 elephants to be divided between the Dallas Zoo, the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas and the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Nebraska.

The three zoos have denounced the claims made by the lawsuit.

“These types of delaying tactics compromise efforts to provide these elephants with a safe haven and a more secure future in the United States,” officials from the zoos told The Wichita Eagle in a joint statement.