A Plea to the Johannesburg Zoo to release lonely Lammie the Elephant.

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While Lammie the elephant languishes alone since the recent death of her partner, Kinkel, elephant experts are calling for her release from Johannesburg Zoo to a sanctuary, saying the captive elephant’s overall wellbeing is being compromised.

The question of Lammie’s future without her companion, who died of unconfirmed causes, has led to a heated debate between zookeepers and elephant welfare experts.

Please sign the petition to help bring about change for Lammie.

This is not the first tragedy that captive-born Lammie has endured in her 39 years at Jo’burg Zoo. Both her parents, Jumbo and Dolly, who were taken from the wild in the seventies, died at the zoo within a year of each other and her brother, also born at the zoo, died shortly after being sold to a French zoo.

Johannesburg Zoo has confirmed that they plan to acquire another cow to keep Lammie company, but animal welfare and elephant experts have objected, saying that the lone elephant should be released into a wild reserve where she can roam free and bond with a herd.

The EMS Foundation has offered to find a suitable sanctuary or reserve for Lammie and to cover all the costs of her relocation.

The National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) says it is opposed to keeping elephants in captivity citing their 2015 report which highlighted the welfare status of elephants in captivity. This scientific report revealed that nearly all captive elephants suffer welfare deficiencies.

“The NSPCA strongly discourage bringing another elephant into captivity. Most captive elephants that have been in unnatural circumstances behave unpredictably and do not necessarily behave like a wild elephant would,” says Manager of NSPCA’s Wildlife Protection Unit, Martie Rossouw.

As sentient animals reliant on family bonds, elephants in captivity often display behavioural abnormalities, suffer from disease or disability and have notably shorter life spans. And, due to high infant mortality rates, no conservation value has been ascribed to captive elephant breeding programmes.

“The (zoo’s) current plans include monitoring her (Lammie’s) behaviour, providing enrichment items for her (and) if she is coping with the situation after our interventions, another cow will be introduced,” says Mr Piet Malepa of Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo Animal Welfare and Management.

However, visitors to the Zoo report that no additional enrichment items have yet been provided two weeks after Kinkel’s death. The only enrichment items evident are a very large tyre as well as a few smaller tyres suspended from a pole.

This plan would go against the growing international move away from keeping elephants in captivity which has led to many major zoos worldwide to shut down their elephant displays.

South Africa’s Elephant Norms and Standards prohibits the capture of elephants in the wild for permanent captivity, yet this seems to be the Zoo’s plan.

According to Dr Gay Bradshaw, a trans-species psychologist who researches the effects of violence on elephants and other animals, the death of an individual has a large impact on the family and within the community. Furthermore, repeated losses in the absence of the traditional healing structures of the elephant family and culture causes sustained psychological trauma.

“It is not unreasonable to state that Lammie is likely suffering significant grief and is traumatised given her history and the loss of her partner,” says elephant expert, Audrey Delsink, executive director of Africa’s Humane Society International.

“In order for Lammie to thrive emotionally and physically, she needs to be placed in a semi-wild facility that does not support human-elephant interactions and where she can express natural behaviours.  The zoo should be making immediate plans to unite Lammie with other female elephants of differing ages to mimic a herd and the critical “family” structure that is essential to an elephant’s social well-being and learning experience,” says Delsink.

Chairman of the Elephant Reintegration Trust, which aids the relocation of elephants from captivity to the wild, Brett Mitchell, says that reintegration of elephants into the wild can be very successful.

“Although each herd/group of elephants or an individual elephant requires an assessment prior to embarking on a reintegration program to ensure the correct processes are achieved, reintegrating elephants from captivity to a wild situation is successful if the various stages of reintegration are followed correctly,” says Mitchell.

City Parks managing director, Bryne Maduka, stated that the final decision on Lammie’s future will be taken by the Johannesburg City Council after reviewing recommendations from the welfare organisations as well as the zoo.

** This is a guest post by Melissa Reitz for Conservation Action Trust. Read my other shared posts by CAP here. For more information connect with Sally Dowling at administrator@conservationaction.co.za or through their website. Look out for other guest posts from the Conservation Action team as I put my support behind their unwavering efforts to save our wildlife. Top pic from Johannesburg Zoo, bottom one supplied.

Please support this, I’m against zoos that hold animals in this miserable AND lonely state and would love to see this precious girl live out her twilight years in a safe protected sanctuary.

This is Lammie now, looking very sad.

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371 Responses

  1. Animals should not be kept in captivity for human entertainment. Please release this elephant to a sanctuary.

  2. It is a disgrace that such a beautiful and sociable creature be kept in solitude. Elephants live in herds, not like this.

  3. PLEASE – Let her go! Let her live out her days with other rescued Elephants in a sanctuary and not a cage!

    We can see this majestic creature in a sanctuary!


  4. It mustn’t be a plea. They must force the zoo to put this poor elephant in a sanctuary. What is wrong with these people???? And let me tell you before it’s to late. This elephant will also die.

  5. Zoo’s and using animals for human entertainment should be a thing of the past!!!!!! Let this beautiful girl go and let her live her life out in a protected sanctuary!!!

  6. I wish all Zoo’s would close down. I believe that every animal deserves a life of freedom. I am well aware that sanctuaries are required to help hurt/abandoned animals. But in my opinion there are no needs for Zoos!! Please let Lammie live a life she deserved in the first place. Let her run wild and free.

  7. Free to roam
    Free to be herself
    Free to be happy
    Free of being the entertainment
    Free to do what she is meant to
    Free to just BE

  8. Dear Lord just release the poor soul. Bringing another elephant into captivity is just wrong! Elephants, in fact all animals do not belong 8n captivity for humans to exploit for money.

  9. Certainly at sòme stage, the zoo management must weigh the suffering of this sentient being up against FINANCIAL gains to be made. There is NO justification for the continued suffering of Lammie. DO SOMETHING!!

  10. Please, please let Lammie go to a Sanctuary for her last remaining time here on earth! She has really suffered enough now and deserves to be happy. something the zoo cannot grant her!!!

  11. Lammie deserves to be sent somewhere so that she can mourn the loss of her loved one and heal amongst other elephants. If the zoo really cares for their animals they will do the right thing and let her go.

  12. Please release beautiful lammie. She belongs in a sanctuary with a herd of elephants. Not on her own. This breaks my heart and it is so sad.

  13. Let’s do a crowd funding and buy her, set her free in a reserve and let her thrive. I can do the England site and administer it? They’ll agree if there’s money to be had, I’m sure. I know that’s a bad incentive but who knows how long she’ll survive like this? Elephants are herd mammals, there’s nothing else to say……

  14. My late father built these enclosures at the Johannesburg Zoo. That was in the 60’s. The world knows better now. Please release her she looks so unhappy. People have internet now they can see wildlife easily

  15. My heart breaks with each tragic story I hear about what animals have to endure! And for what?!?!? So a human can have yet another entertaining moment in their life?!?! Like we are short of entertainment!!!
    Why do animals need to be involved. It is not only unnecessary but just outright cruel. Shame on zoos all over the world. And for anyone who uses these beautiful , innocent and helpless creatures to make money.
    I can’t wait to see all these places get closed down and burnt to the ground while all the animals are set free.
    Go make money some other way where you are not destroying lives!!!

  16. Please let this little ellie live out the rest of her life in nature. Most elephants live over 50 years and yet those in zoos live for only half that time. She needs company and she needs to move.! There must be a better place for her than a zoo

  17. Please find your humanity and release Lammie as suggested by experts into a sanctuary giving her the opportunity to bond with a herd and roam free.
    She deserves to be happy!!

  18. Please release Lammie into a sanctuary so that she can salvage what’s left of her life and experience freedom – which is the birthright of all beings. Innocent beings should not be incarcerated in prisons.

    Stop exploiting animals for profit. There is nothing beautiful about stolen freedom.

  19. Don’t insist on keeping Lammie caged because she is a draw-card. Finally allow her the freedom she deserves with other elephants in a sanctuary to live out the remainder of her days. Look at her she is desolate.

  20. Please, please release Lammie. Elephants are such beautiful animals and they are very family orientated. I am from Africa and have experienced being with elephants. I ask again, please release Lammie.

  21. Please release Lammie the elephant into the wild where she can live the rest of her life in a herd with love and compassion. To keep her in the Johannesburg Zoo is cruel.

  22. Please release this poor animal to a sanctuary and allow her to live what is left of her life with her elephant family

  23. Elephants are sentient, emotionally intelligent animals (as shown by research, if anecdotal evidence is doubted). They are mammals and intended to live socially. This is the equivalent of solitary confinenent – the worst punishment given to humans. It is not justice and they are not ours to do with what we wish. This is immoral and should be stopped in todays day and age where we know so much better.

  24. She has helped line your pockets for years, she has lost her only friend. PLEASE PLEASE let her live out her years as an elephant should. She has done her bit for you now show you care about more than money and so your bit for her!!!!?

  25. Release her she has had enough in her life more than most even humans, how would you handly being confind in a small place when your nature is to roam….typical Africans, the ones who should know better.

  26. Please please find it in your heart to release this poor elephant. Its been far too long! Please let her live out the rest of her days with freedom and fellow elephants.
    please i beg you.
    Thank you

  27. Think of the elephants well being. Please move her to allow her a bit of free roaming and the socialization that she needs. She won’t survive like this. Nor should animals be there in the first place.

  28. Please let her go and let her be with a family that she knows. She needs companionship in the wild or a place where she is cared for and where other elephants live. It is not right that she lives alone in an environment that is not healthy to her health. Please, please release her.

  29. Please send her to a santurary with other elephants.
    They are very social animals that need a family unit.
    She deserves to be happy!

  30. Elephants live in a family, especially the females. They help with younger elephants and are used to the interaction of the family group…
    The question is, would Lammie be able to be introduced to living in a sanctuary? From what I have read in the article she has grown up in the confines of the zoo.
    I loathe zoo’s. Look back to see where they started! It is not natural for wild animals of any description to be confined.. the argument is so that people that would otherwise never have a chance to see animals anywhere but in a zoo, now have the opportunity of seeing them.
    News flash! I will never have the opportunity to see 99% of the animals in the zoo in their own habitat.. does it send me running to the zoo? NO! It does not!
    I find the confinement of animals depressing and how anyone can find joy in going and gaping into cages and enclosures entertaining and fun doesn’t say much for humans.
    In today’s world where we have technology we can learn everything about any animal.
    South Africa are we still living in the colonial past that used to cage everything they could for their own entertainment and amusement including people that were taken and shown off in their grand homes!
    How many foreign visitors visit the zoo in either Pretoria or Johannesburg annually? They come here to go on “Safari “, not to visit a zoo… I feel South Africans would be far better off if that ground was made recreational, have tennis courts, football fields, running tracks, where people can go for no cost and stay fit. The Government pours money into keeping animals that don’t belong in captivity and people to tend the animals, rather pay decent salaries for those same people to take care of the grounds and to keep people safe there and to help in sports training..
    TIME to move into the new world and stop caging animals.

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, I so agree with your sentiments and that very valid points you make. Zoos are horribly cruel. She deserves more. All the animals do. And a sanctuary would give her access to other elephants and much more natural space to roam in.
      Please sign the petition and let’s try and make a difference for darling Lammie.

  31. Please release Lammie into a sanctuary where she can have some freedom. What is happening now is cruel please release her.

  32. The state of the animals at the Johannesburg zoo in general is really sad. The animals looks sad and not in best condition. Overall zoos should not exist anymore have we not exploited animals enough that in this day and age we still find the need to put them on display and teach our children that this is what nature is ? Alll animals deserve the right to freedom and supporting zoos is just another way that we are going with the flow. We need to educate ourselves and our youth and this is wrong and there are other ways to see animals in their natural environments

  33. Please release Lammie and all other animals held in captivity for human entertainment! Zoo’s should all be shut down. Animals needing special treatment should be in a wildlife enclosure, not cages. So very sad 🙁

  34. Zoos are terrible places for any animal. They should be able to roam freely and not be locked up in an enclosure. Please release this poor elephant so that she can have some freedom after years in your zoo

  35. This breaks my heart. No animal should be kept in cages / enclosures for our pleasure. This poor elephant should be released immediately so that she can enjoy the rest of her life in ‘limited’ freedom. Staying at the Zoo will definately cause a early, very lonely and heartbreaking death. All zoo’s should be shut down as far as I’m concerned.

  36. Ekephants are social animals that need to be with other ekephants – free to roam and not in zoo displays and DEFINITELY NOT ALONE!

  37. Promising a friend for Lammie is NOT the answer. She deserves to be free from that prison. Please give her that privilege to roam freely in a sanctuary!!!!!!

  38. This is heartbreaking and cruel. What ever happened to righteousness? Our world is oversaturated with greed and the wickedness of man. We need more compassion and love in this world for all who inhabit it. We were given dominion over animals and commanded to care for them. Release this beautiful creature , you know it’s the right thing to do.

  39. 39 Years really…. Why are there Zoo’s that are still open???? Wild Animals shouldn’t be help captive, especially in such a small enclosure as she has now. Elephants are magnificent being and should be able to roam free and wild as they should.

    Going to a Zoo’s is nothing less than heart breaking, to see the animals in such a state and how they are just “rotting” away is absolutely heart breaking. People in the animal captivity industry claim to love animals and want the best for the animals, but how can captivity be the best for any wild animal that is able to be in the wild where they belong????
    If the zookeepers really care for her as they should they will release her, it is in her best interest.

    For once in your career do the right thing, please!!!!

  40. Please do the right thing for this poor lonely elephant, Lammie. It is not okay for us as humans not to relieve suffering and to help where we can!

  41. Pls consider all that this elephant has already given to the community and allow her to live out her last years in the freedom she deserves.

  42. Set her free it’s not our right to keep any animal captive specially just for our amusement. Please her life is not ours to own

  43. Please release this poor sad and abused elephant to live out his life in a sanctuary with othe elephants He is lonely and grieving Elephants belong in packs They can’t be isolated from their own kind Making money off this poor animal is abusive and cruel

  44. If Lammie’s life will be enriched by being free and together with other elephants that decision should hold true – for sure

  45. Please let this gorgeous being live in her natural environment for the remainder of her years we really don’t need to go see these beautiful animals in captivity
    Thank you

  46. Elephants are gregarious and are supposed to roam large landscapes. They are not born to be captive and isolated – not interacting with other elephants would greatly harm the elephant. Please release this lonely, trapped elephant.

  47. I do not understand the stubborn stand that Johannesburg Zoo is taking on the release of Lammie the lone elephant. The effect on her health and wellbeing has been put to Mr. Piet Malepa in quite simple and easily understandable terms, yet he fails to act on recommendations. This leads me to question his qualifications and capabilities. I do urge him and all other decision makers not to let Lammie die of unknown causes as well. Do the right thing.

  48. No one should alone. Lambie deserves to be with other elephants at a sanctuary. They dont have voices so listen to ours.

  49. Ah my heart is so sore reading this!!! Release the poor girl!!! Mr Malepa needs to try losing everyone he loves and living in solitary confinement… maybe then he would get it.

    LET wild be wild!!!

  50. Please let her spend her last years in freedom. What u r doing is cruel and inhumane. Animals dont belong in a zoo

  51. Please release her into the wild… we don’t need to bring more into captivity, do the right thing, she has already paid the price for her life in captivity!

  52. Have a heart. Stop thinking about raking in the profits to keep the zoo an attraction. It’s 2018 – we know better than that.

  53. I picked up their poop for a school community project a few years back. Was a pretty awesome experience but very sad too. She really deserves a better life and I hope that she gets to live the rest of her years free.

  54. Beings deserves happiness and friendship. We should never deny anyone happiness. Pse do the right thing for Lammie. and allow Lammie’s release into the company of his/her own. Thank you.

  55. No human or animal deserves to live a life of loneliness. We all deserve the ability to socialize and be free. Lambie deserves no less. Free her to end her days at a sanctuary. PLEASE

  56. Please take Lammie to a sanctuary. She must be devastated with out her companion. Think how you would feel if your closet person died and you had to live alone and never speak to anyone ever again. Please. Move her.

  57. This poor darling is living the equivalent of solitary confinement in jail to a human being. What is she being punished for? Lammie does not deserve this lonely life. Release her so she can have friends to interact with and experience some happiness for the rest of her life. ALL zoos should be totally abolished. Wild animals belong in the wild.

  58. This is so cruel she has to be released. She looks so sad and lonely. How can they even think of keeping
    her in this tiny space.

  59. This lady has committed no crime but is locked up for the pleasure of people who should know better. We have the Pilansberg on our doorstep
    Where elephants can be viewed in the natural surroundings, a much more educational experience for our children

  60. Please release Lammie into a sanctuary. After so many years in a zoo, she deserves to live out her years in a kinder environment.

  61. Please close down the Elephant exhibition at the Johannesburg Zoo and free this beautiful being. Where is your humanity? Set the right example, do something big for the entire planet. Help spread love and peace.

  62. Elephants are highly sociable sentient beings who thrive in a structured family herd in nature!
    Please do the right thing and release her to a,sanctuary environment if she cant be released back to the wild

  63. Lame deserves to be released into the wild where she can bone with a herd. They are such emotional animals, keeping her in captivity is cruel.

  64. Release this beautiful elephant into a sanctuary where she can have a better place to roam and be around other elephants
    Doesn’t belong in a small zoo cage, SET HER FREE!

  65. Please have a heart and do what’s best for Lammie. Release het to a sanctuary where she can lead a life closer to get natural environment in a herd

  66. Please do the right thing and retire Lammie to a sanctuary with other elephants. Elephants are social animals and having a lone Elephant is not good for her health and well being.

    For the sake of Lammie do the right and decent thing and give her a happy life out of the zoo and with a herd of elephants.

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