Welfare groups gear up for major legal challenge against Government

(Sydney, Australia) - Three leading animal welfare and conservation organisations are gearing up for the start of a major legal appeal against the Government. The legal appeal, by IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare), RSPCA Australia and Humane Society International (HSI), will begin on Tuesday (11 October). It is expected to last less than two working weeks.

They are challenging a decision, made by the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, to allow the import of eight Asian elephants to Taronga and Melbourne zoos. It will begin at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in 55 Market Street, Sydney, at 10am. The world’s leading elephant experts are testifying against the import. They include: · Alan Roocroft—a highly experienced former animal handler and manager at zoos around the world, including managing the elephant program at San Diego Zoo for several years. He now advises zoos and governments on captive elephant care and has carried out extensive research. · Dr Joyce Poole—studying African elephants and working for their conservation and welfare since 1975, she is Research Director of the Amboseli Elephant Research Project in Kenya.

Dr Jacob Cheeran— the foremost elephant veterinarian in India, he is Senior Scientist and Professor-In-Charge of Pharmacological Control of Wild Animals at one of India’s top universities and a consultant to numerous conservation organisations and governments. IFAW, HSI and RSPCA Australia are appealing the decision—made on July 20—on the grounds that there is no conservation benefit to the import, it will potentially be detrimental to the survival and recovery of the species and the zoos cannot meet the biological and behavioral needs of the elephants. IFAW campaigner Rebecca Brand said: “This appeal will clearly show that zoos are no place for elephants. We are confident that this flawed and damaging decision will be overturned.”

“The experts will argue that this proposed import fails to meet the requirements of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, “ said Nicola Benyon from HSI. RSPCA Australia President Hugh Wirth said: “A captive breeding program in zoos simply won’t work. This proposed import seems more about increasing visitor numbers than animal welfare or conservation.”

7 October 2005

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