After the death of her partner earlier this month, Lammie has been alone and mourning the loss but South Africans don’t want the Zoo to get her another mate… they want her to be FREE!
The Conservation Action Trust’s Melissa Reitz has written a moving piece urging the Johannesburg Zoo to release Lammie the 39-year-old elephant currently living alone at the zoo. At the beginning of September, her partner Kinkel who was 35, passed away from unconfirmed causes. Zoo officials are still working on the postmortem.
Concerns are now being expressed towards Lammie’s wellbeing after the loss.
Lammie was born in captivity at the zoo to parents Jumbo and Dolly who were taken from the wild back in the seventies. In her time at the zoo, both her parents and brother died. Experts are now calling for her to be released into a wild sanctuary where she can roam freely and live out her days reconnecting with a herd.
According to Melissa, the Johannesburg Zoo plans to acquire another cow to keep Lammie company. Animal welfare and elephant experts have objected to placing another elephant into captivity and have insisted that Lammie should be released into a wild reserve instead.
“The NSPCA strongly discourage bringing another elephant into captivity. Most captive elephants that have been in unnatural circumstances behave unpredictably and do not necessarily behave like a wild elephant would,” says Manager of NSPCA’s Wildlife Protection Unit, Martie Rossouw.
Melissa also argues that by acquiring a new elephant at the zoo, the zoo is going against movements across the globe that are working to fight having elephants in captivity. “This plan would go against the growing international move away from keeping elephants in captivity which has led to many major zoos worldwide to shut down their elephant displays.”
Elephants are sentient animals and rely on family units to mourn their losses. Without that family structure, Lammie will likely have some degree of psychological trauma.
“It is not unreasonable to state that Lammie is likely suffering significant grief and is traumatised given her history and the loss of her partner,” says elephant expert, Audrey Delsink, executive director of Africa’s Humane Society International.“In order for Lammie to thrive emotionally and physically, she needs to be placed in a semi-wild facility that does not support human-elephant interactions and where she can express natural behaviours. The zoo should be making immediate plans to unite Lammie with other female elephants of differing ages to mimic a herd and the critical “family” structure that is essential to an elephant’s social well-being and learning experience,” says Delsink.
All these experts are deeply concerned about her wellbeing. By speaking out about what is happening has pushed many people to become vocal and ask the zoo to reconsider. The City Parks managing director, Bryne Maduka, says the final decision on Lammie’s future will be taken by the Johannesburg City Council after reviewing recommendations from the welfare organisations as well as the zoo.
Hopefully, Lammie will be given the best. What are your thoughts?