EAZA and Wild Elephant Conservation

9. November 2022

On September 2022 the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) announced the termination  of the membership status of Al Ain Zoo’s in the United Arab Emirates. Their membership officially ends on December 31, 2022 and is based on the “careful examination of evidence related to the import of wild-caught elephants from Namibia, which the council agreed consisted of multiple breaches of  EAZA’s codes and standards.”

While this termination may be justified, it begs the question why most of the European Zoos who regularly break EAZA’s codes ands standards are still full EAZA members in good standing. EAZA’z own  general welfare criteria for wild animals including elephants in captivity in European zoos,  cannot be met by EAZA members. Consequently, all European zoos that still keep elephant prisoners should immediately loose EAZA membership.  Furthermore, Elephants in zoos in Europe add nothing to the conservation of the species, but are directly or indirectly contributing to the extinctionlof elephants in the wild. Captivity for wild animals in zoos has nothing to do with conservation and a lot to do with greed.

Take a look at the PETA video about elephant treatment in the Hanover zoo and wonder why that wild animal jail is still a full member of EAZA in good standing:


A strict enforcement of the desired qualifications for EAZA membership would simply mean closing most European zoos and aquariums, thereby eliminating the very reason for-being of an organization such as EAZA. Currently, EAZA is not the solution to ending miserable lives of captive animals, teaching children about the nature of such animals or making serious contributions to conservation.  It is in fact very much the problem which perpetuates  the ills of an outdated colonial system of freak shows for money, falsely justifying their activities as great contributors to animal welfare and human knowledge of the wild animal world.

One of 4 female elephants living in the “Tierpark Hellabrunn Zoo” in Munich, Germany in front of the newly restored Elephant House for the pleasure of the Zoo’s visitors. Does this image teach anything about  elephant nature?  Photo credit: Encircle Photos

That being said, EAZA  could have an important role to play  by  initiating the end of showing captive animals in zoos, with the help of ecological minded governments and NGOs. Wild animals should begin to be rescued from the worst zoos and transferred to sanctuaries or to zoos which have enough property to become real sanctuaries themselves. Where-ever possible, such animals could be rehabilitated to have a chance of survival in the wild until the outdated institutions of current zoos in Europe cease to exist. EAZA could become an honest advocate for the conservation of wild animals, by protecting the wild habitats of such animals, as well as the human indigenous populations  that might be negatively impacted by living close to wild animals. This approach could be the beginning of outlawing ALL trade and HARM inflicted on wild animals, thereby preserving  of what is left of the planet’s biodiversity.

Two female elephants from Zoo and Circus backgrounds peacefully grazing at the European Elephant sanctuary located in the “Limousin” in the center of France. Photo credit: European Elephant Sanctuary: ELEPHANT HAVEN