If all goes as planned two African elephants, Pupi & Kuki, will soon have a home in a sanctuary far away from their current existence in Argentina, surrounded by a perilous dry moat at an all but forgotten zoo in Buenos Aires **. (A third elephant named Maria, a former abused circus elephant has an uncertain future as she is currently being evaluated in order to determine the viability of a successful transition for her.)
When the Palermo Zoo first opened its gates to inquisitive crowds in 1875 on “the outskirts of Buenos Aires” it was a different world and people were more accepting of capturing exotic animals from the wild and holding them in cages.
Today 140 years later, with the hustle and bustle of this Argentinian city having encroached on these ancient concrete enclosures, even the mayor, Horacio Rodriguez Larreta, agrees that it is time for a change.It’s time to transform their current landscape into an “eco park” and follow suit as other “all but abandoned” zoos have.
If the Palermo Zoo fulfills their promise, close to 1500 animals will find more humane conditions in sanctuaries in South America and beyond. Although it was not specified, Pupi & Kiki will most likely be relocated close by at a recently opened (2015) elephant sanctuary in Brazil . Here they will have, once all of the phases of construction are completed, “a 2800 acre property in Chapada dos Guimaraes” to enjoy just being elephants again.
Maria the elephant, may not be fit for relocation, along with “some other animals who will have to stay due to age or illness, including a lion cub with hypothyroidism, an elderly anteater and a snow leopard.”
The good news is that the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina has come to realize just how damaging it is to effectively warehouse wildlife in cages (for human entertainment) as they have recently announced that they will “break the model of captivity and exhibition.
For gone are the days when children found great joy spending time amongst the caged wild animals. Long gone are the innocent childhood days of Argentinian novelist Jorge Luis Borges whose “favorite haunt” was the Palermo Zoo. (He became one of their most notable and loyal visitors.) Those days are forever left behind (or should be) in the era of the nineteenth century.
As for Pupi & Kuki (and hopefully, Maria) who have spent the vast majority of their lives in perpetual navigation, just going in circles, if you will, around a tiny zoo enclosure (enough to drive any human insane & certainly not a life at all for an intelligent creature, such as an elephant) a chance to be surrounded by open fields and greenery can only give these African elephants a new hope.
Why, it may even be possible to heal their old wounds (both in body & spirit) as Pupi & Kuki take those first elephant steps towards “freedom”. When that time actually comes, which is long overdue, may these sweet elephants find peace as they are given the opportunity to reclaim the remaining years of their lives in a sanctuary with other rescued elephants.
**Data on Pupi an “African Bush Elephant” & Kuki an “African Bush/Savanna Elephant” is scarce; no mention of their ages or length of time spent at the Palermo Zoo. No additional information on Maria, the 3rd elephant mentioned in the Daily Mail article, was found after searching the Absolute Elephant Information Encyclopedia & Database
Images: CC Flickr : Featured , Elephant Leaning Over Moat , Historical Mother Elephant & baby elephant, Anxiously Awaiting, Elephant Encircling Enclosure, Elephant Water Fountain, A Majestic Profile, Walking Away
See Instagram photo of Pupi Enjoying Herself With A Dust Bath (our Elephant is Smiling!) from The Telegraph UK
Note: AbZOOlutely Not** or The Controversy of Zoos & Others Keeping Elephants in Captivity (**A disclaimer about this category. While there are some Zoos that demonstrate exemplary methods of elephant care, unfortunately, they do not represent the “lion’s share”.)