Dame Judi Dench, Ricky Gervais, Simon Pegg, and singer Leona Lewis are spearheading a new campaign to urge world leaders not to overturn a week-old ban on the trade of baby African elephants to zoos and circuses.
The four stars are among the celebrities, who have signed a new open letter from the Humane Society International, Brigitte Bardot Foundation, and The Born Free Foundation, among other animal conservation and care groups, which has been sent to European Union officials ahead of a new vote on the ban.
The animal welfare officials claim opposing the ban will mean baby African elephants will be caught in the wild and “ripped from their families and shipped off to foreign zoos”.
The ban was first voted on and approved earlier this week by a majority of countries attending the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna in Geneva, but the EU voting bloc of 28 is expected to attempt to overturn it next week.
The letter reads: “Elephants are social and emotional creatures who form strong family bonds and suffer tremendously in captivity. Captured elephants can face horrific abuse during the capture process. Footage of wild-caught baby elephants awaiting export from Zimbabwe shows calves being beaten and kicked during capture.
“Some elephants have died during transit or shortly after arrival. Elephants who survive the long journey into captivity have been observed living in dark, barren cells in the holding facilities and zoos, in stark and heart-breaking contrast to the vast wilderness, in which they naturally roam with family groups and larger clans.”
A Humane Society spokesperson tells WENN, “We call on all EU Environment ministers to reflect the position of the majority of African elephant range States, the great majority of EU citizens, and leading elephant experts, and support the proposal to end the export of wild-caught elephants for captive use.”