Elephant Captures Are Done in Secret—Watch This Video and Find Out Why

Published by Zachary Toliver.

Footage of an elephant capture in Zimbabwe shows a calf being drugged, tied up, kicked, and torn away from her family. In this rare eyewitness account, viewers can witness what’s just the beginning of a bleak, diminished existence in captivity.

According to a report from The Guardian—which first received the video from an anonymous source—a total of 14 elephants were captured in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. A Chinese national—who has previously been associated with a cruel hyena shipment—has reportedly purchased the elephants, who are likely destined for Chinese zoos.

Humans have no business taking wild animals away from their families and locking them up to sell tickets.

Elephants are extremely intelligent, self-aware animals with long memories. They suffer and grieve when they’re forcibly removed from their families, just as humans would. Putting elephants through the trauma of capture and separation from their herd, only to hold them captive and deprive them of everything that’s natural and important to them, possibly for decades, is unconscionable.

Some fates are indeed worse than death.

In nature, elephants roam vast territories and live in complex social herds. They spend their time foraging, swimming, and playing—a way of life that circuses and zoos can never come close to replicating. In captivity, their space is measured in square feet, their companions—if any—can be counted on one hand, and every aspect of their lives is dictated by human keepers.

It’s no wonder that on average, captive elephants have much shorter lifespans than their wild counterparts.

Elephants are taken from their homes and shipped to the U.S.

Most elephants in circuses and zoos in the U.S. were captured from the wild, and when they were captured, they experienced trauma and abuse similar to that endured by the elephant in this video. For example, Nosey the elephant was captured in Zimbabwe with dozens of other babies and sold to a U.S. businessperson, who sold them off to zoos and circuses.

In 2016, 17 young elephants were shipped to U.S. zoos after being captured in Swaziland. (An 18th captured elephant died before the shipment.) The zoos paid nearly half a million dollars to a trust operated by the country’s permit authority in exchange for the elephants.

Zimbabwean authorities were quick to use this deal to justify its own export of elephants—which has increased in recent years.

In 2003, two U.S. zoos also imported 11 elephants from Swaziland.

Avoid any place that profits from a broken family.

You can make a difference in the lives of all animals used for entertainment—including those in the U.S.—by voting with your wallet. Steer clear of any roadside zoo, marine park, or circus that keeps animals confined in unnatural circumstances for profit.

We may never know what happens to the elephants from this video. But right now, Nosey is still in captivity, thousands of miles away from her Zimbabwe homeland, and needs your help today.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind