Several animal rights groups including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, The Born Free Foundation, and the Elephant Sanctuary filed suit against the U.S. Department of the Interior to block the importation of 11 African elephants.
Reuters reports that the elephants would be captured in Swaziland and shipped to the San Diego, California, and Tampa, Florida, zoos which both have elephant breeding programs.
In a March press release on the subject, PETA asserted that zoos played no valuable role in conservation, with PETA’s Debbie Leahy saying,
The San Diego Zoo is putting the ‘con’ into conservation. Taking elephants who are thriving with their herds in nature and placing them on display halfway around the world hurts wild populations.
PETA said it has offered to relocate the elephants to another part of Africa if the elephants are overcrowding their range in Swaziland.
PETA “Elephant” Leads Protest at Zoo?s Main Entrance. Press Release, PETA, March 27, 2003.
Animal rights groups sue US over elephant imports. Reuters, April 11, 2003.
Correction: this article orginally repeated Reuters’ error in identifying the animals in question as Indian elephants. They are, in fact, African elephants.