There are calls for three elephants that are allegedly being held in conditions unsuited to their basic needs to be released from the Johannesburg Zoo.
The elephants are known as Lammie, Mopane and Ramadiba.
On Monday, the Animal Law Reform South Africa (ALRSA), the EMS Foundation and Chief Stephen Fritz – represented by environmental law firm, Cullinan and Associates – lodged an application to the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to release the elephants.
Fritz, Senior Chief of the South Peninsula Customary Khoisan Council, said the legal remedy is being sought to have the elephants released to live out the remainder of their lives in a natural environment.
“Leading global Elephant experts have attested to the fact that Lammie, Mopane and Ramadiba are highly intelligent, socially complex and sentient beings who are living in conditions that are averse to their well-being, and are as a result in a state of distress.
“The conditions offered by the Johannesburg Zoo do not meet their fundamental physical, mental and emotional needs.”
Fritz said imprisoning the elephants showcases the past and the present will humiliate and disrespect South Africa’s culture and heritage.
“For many years I have felt ashamed and powerless: I am, therefore, relieved that a large number of experts and scientists have united, bringing together a wealth of knowledge to offer these Elephants a powerful defence. “
In his affidavit, Fritz argues that the manner in which the City of Johannesburg and the Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo confine and exhibit the elephants is offensive to the culture and living heritage of the Khoi peoples, and undermines the recovery and perpetuation of their living heritage.
“Despite repeated representations and requests to release the elephants from captivity at the Johannesburg Zoo, the officials have failed or refused to do so.”
Fritz said the applicants are requesting that the court release the elephants into the care of the EMS Foundation, which will appoint relevant and qualified experts to assess the elephants and manage their relocation, rehabilitation and reintegration into a wild environment.