The plight of Shankar in Delhi Zoo, the lone African elephant from Zimbabwe, continues to baffle and amaze wildlife lovers and animal welfare/rights activists nationally and internationally. Three years after highlighting his plight here on ElephantVoices, Shankar is still chained, still beaten and has no company of his own species. The best option is for the Indian government to send Shankar away to a wildlife refuge in Africa, in Kenya preferably where he can live among his own kind. To achieve that there has to be a way to overcome the halo surrounding his status as a diplomatic gift.

Shankar's plight illustrates the sordid state of African Elephants in captivity in India, with the two animals in deplorable conditions in Mysore Zoo as other grim examples, says Shubhobroto Ghosh, author of The Indian Zoo Inquiry(1.14 MB). In this synopsis (1.36 MB) Ghosh describes the fortunes of African elephants in Indian Zoos and in particular a pair from Zimbabwe that were given in 1998 as a diplomatic gift to the Indian President. We urge all friends of Zimbabwe to do what they can to convince the Government that what they are doing is of disservice also for their tourism industry and their own people.

In the synopsis Ghosh strongly urges range states to leave free-ranging African and Asian elephants strictly where they belong - in the wild. In late 2009 India took the enlightened step of banning elephant from zoos - applauded from around the world.

Zoo elephants shunned of basic needs

Dr. Sunil Srivastava, a veterinary doctor with 25 years experience and Delhi representative of international animal rights organisation Animal Equality says, “In the wild animals have their roles and jobs to fulfill. The natural behaviour exercised by them provides the required physical and mental stimulation. But zoo elephants are shunned of their basic needs and Shankar is no exception to this. During my early days when I volunteered with the Delhi zoo, I noticed deep bruises on the ankles of elephants, a result of their struggle to get out of the chains. One of the Delhi zoo keepers agrees that elephants are chained during the period of musth.