Why should zoos help?

We’re establishing a sustainable North American elephant population.

Establishing a sustainable population is critical to ensuring the largest land mammals on earth have a safe, protected future. To get there, we’re taking an innovative new approach that creates elephant populations in professional care based on large social groups, like the herds in Africa.

This is a successful model that saves lives.

In 2003, a group of leading zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) relocated eleven elephants from Swaziland. And today, they are thriving. All eight females and all but one of the males have produced at least one calf, resulting in 14 elephant births and increased genetic diversity. AZA, the national accrediting body for zoos, recently recognized the program for its success.

The elephant population in Africa is under siege.

Increasingly sophisticated poachers kill an average of 96 elephants in Africa every day for their ivory. The population has declined by 60 percent in the past decade alone. Today there are few safe places for elephants on the continent. The continent is becoming more developed as agriculture expands its impact and remaining larger areas that could sustain elephant herds lack protection and patrols to protect against poachers. Poaching is a significant problem we are working to eradicate. We serve as proud partners of the 96 Elephants campaign, working to end ivory sales and stop the slaughter. While progress is being made, a meaningful change will take time and the elephants need a home now.

Some people would rather see these elephants die than live in an accredited zoo. We strongly disagree.

As caretakers and conservationists, we care about populations as a whole just as much as an individual animal. We can provide these elephants with the home they need and the safe, healthy future they deserve.

The Role of Zoos in Conservation

Ted Reilly, Royal Advisor on wildlife to the Kingdom of Swaziland and Founder of Big Game Parks Trust.