Free animals from captivity: Expert urges government

New Delhi, Dame Jane Goodall, renowned primatologist and UN messenger of peace, Friday urged the government to free animals from captivity after the recent death of rhinoceros and a gorilla in Indian zoos.

In her letter to the Central Zoo Authority, she appealed them to enact the "prohibition" of the import of gorillas in Indian zoos and free animals such as elephants and rhinoceros confined in artificial environment.

"Keeping animals such as elephants, gorillas, rhinos that need large spaces or live in complex social family groups in the wild, in zoos, is cruel and causes the animals to suffer loss of natural habitat and stimuli and companionship of their own species," Puja Mitra of Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations said.

FIAPO is running a campaign to save the gorillas in captivity, as they have been included in the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List.

On Nov 7, 2009, the Central Zoo Authority had also issued a directive to relocate captive elephants from zoos. The directive stated that most zoos do not have enough space and thus keep elephants chained which is detrimental to the physical and mental wellbeing of the animal.

However, only a few zoos have complied with the directive with 19 zoos asking to be exempted from the ban.

"Failure of captive breeding programmes in the case of threatened species such as gorillas, rhinos and elephants, only highlights the fact that captivity is outdated to sacrificing animal intelligence, emotional cognition.

"It is time we evolve the way we look at animals and recognize their right to live free life," added Mitra.

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