Sunday, September 13, 2009

Elephants to Osaka?

Osaka Zoo wants to raise two Thai elephants
Bangkok Post - Published: 13/09/2009 at 12:00 AM

Bangkok and Tokyo will hold talks over a plan to send a pair of Thai elephants to a state zoo in Osaka, Industry Minister Charnchai Chairungruang said yesterday.

The minister, who is in Japan to promote trade cooperation, said the jumbos would be a "present to mark close trade ties between the two countries".

Japan had expressed strong interest in raising a pair of Thai elephants at its zoo in Osaka, which already has one Thai jumbo, Mr Charnchai said ahead of a meeting with the Japanese environment minister.

"Japan has been asking for the past six years if it can look after a pair of jumbos, but the Thai government has yet to reply," the minister told the Bangkok Post via telephone from Japan.
"Giving the elephants to an important trading partner such as Japan will be a good way to strengthen economic cooperation," Mr Charnchai said, adding he would discuss the issue with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and the Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti upon his return.

Animal rights groups and environmentalists say sending the elephants to Japan would send a wrong signal that Thailand supports trade in endangered wildlife.

Soraida Salwala, founder of the Bangkok-based Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation, urged the minister to scrap the planned jumbo export.

"The government should keep the elephants here, while Tokyo should stop asking for the jumbos," said Ms Soraida.

Thailand had a bad image as one of the world's largest wildlife trade hubs.

Ms Soraida said many countries had asked Thailand to send Asian elephants to their zoos, including the Philippines, and Sri Lanka.

Elephants are one of 51 wild animals listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which bans the export and import of listed animals except for educational and conservation purposes. However, some imports and exports of protected wild animals have been conducted under government-to-government animal exchange programmes.

Thailand has sent elephants to countries for educational purposes and to strengthen relations, such as the 2006 elephant-koala swap under which eight elephants were sent to zoos in Australia.

I really cannot see any problem with this move. It is only the loony rantings of the anti-zoos that present a hurdle. To even suggest that such a move implies "that Thailand supports trade in endangered wildlife" is so ridiculous that it cannot be seriously be taken on board by any rational human being.
It is all about reasoning and being sensible. Believe you me I would be at the very front of the anti's demonstration to protest about any elephant being sent to the Philippines. They do not have a zoo there which could cope nor offer accommodation. Okay Manila Zoo has an elephant but it has truly awful stabling.
Sri-Lanka? Different case altogether. Do they really need an Asian Elephant? Unlike the Philippines I am unaware of the zoo there.
Common sense is all that is needed.
Osaka would certainly provide a good home for two elephants and be good company for the single animal they already hold. Definitely a good move.

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