ALIVE ALIVE SiteMapContactALIVE Japanese site
 HOME > Zoo Check >A letter to demand the refusal of permission of the import of Asian elephants
about ALIVE
Wild Life
Zoo Check
Companion Animals
Factory Farming
Animal testing
News from Japan

All Life In a Viable Environment

5-18-10-102, Honkomagome, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-0021

Anti Vivisection Action Network



A letter to demand the refusal of permission of the import of Asian elephants

July 1st, 2004

Minister of the Economy, Trade and Industry
Mr.Shoichi Nakagawa
(competent dept.: Trade and Economic Cooperation Bureau,Agriculture and Marine Products Office)

Dear Sir,

We, a nation wide association that watches the traffic of wild animals and checks the facilities for animals such as zoos, would like to demand that you refuse to permit the import of 2 Asian elephants from Thailand because of the following reasons.

According to The Jyunkan Miyazaki newspaper, 2 young elephants from Thailand are going to be imported to "Miyazaki City Phoenix Zoo" in July to express thanks to a Japanese NGO, that has been planting trees in Surin.

The elephants will be also a memorial stuff of the 80th anniversary of the Miyazaki municipal government's enforcement.

1. Concerning the origin of elephants

Asian elephants are under the regulations of CITES, except when they are subjects of scientific study in zoos, because they are a species under threat of extinction. In the case of Asian elephants, CITES demands it should be proved that they have not been in the wild for 3 generations.

The zoo said that the elephants were bred in captivity. However, in Thailand they breed elephants after letting them back into the wild.

It is doubtful that we can call such elephants complete captivity bred animals.

2. Concerning the welfare of animals

According to Article III, paragraph 3b,the Managing Authority of importing country should consider if the facility is suitable for keeping and caring about animals.

However, there are neither laws for zoos nor the public organizations which guide and supervise zoos.

Some local residents informed us of the poor condition in the zoo.

We would like to demand that you investigate the zoo to examine if the facility is suitable for the animals.

3. Elephants can not breed in captivity

According to Article III, paragraph 3c) an import permit must only be granted for Appendix I specimens if these are not to be used for primarily commercial purposes.

In Japan animals that are listed to CITES I are allowed under a breeding program, purportedly a scientific research by zoos. At this time animals are also allowed to be imported for scientific purposes. However, the Managing Authority should check if the purpose of this importation can be justified.

While about 70 Asian elephants are kept in Japan's zoos, no Asian elephants have been bred. Because elephants are highly socialized animals, which live in a maternal family, simple keeping of male and female animals does not cause breeding.

Moreover, male elephants are rarely kept in captivity because it is hard and dangerous to control them in the breeding season. Based on the actual situation in Japan, there will never be proper conditions where Asian elephants can be bred. Therefore it is a falsehood that they apply for the import under a scientific (breeding)purpose.

In March the first Asian baby elephant was born in Oji zoo.However, the mother neglected the baby so that he has been raised by keepers.

4. Concrening the custom of presenting animals

The custom of presenting animals should be abandoned.

Elephants can not be used under the cloak of charity,"friendship".Moreover, keeping elephants that will survive for more than 60 years should be a great burden on a public zoo such as Miyazaki City Phoenix Zoo.

We think what we should convey to future generation in the 21st century how important it is to conserve our natural environment,and the wild animals which we can not recover once we lose.

Director of ALIVE
Fusako Nogami

We have attached the following documents.

Council Directive 1999/22EC of 29 March 1999 relating to the keeping of wild animals in zoos
Zoo Licensing Act 1981
Guidelines for animal welfare issued by OIE