admits it gave bull elephant electric shocks
is not a Woburn elephant but is another one in similar dire situation which
we must get them out of
male elephant said to be best trained and most manageable in Europe was
given 4,500-volt shocks to make it obey
elephant at Woburn Safari Park which has been described by bosses there
as “one of the best trained and most manageable bulls in Europe"
was forced to obey its keeper’s commands with the use of high voltage
electric shocks, it has emerged.
a 16-year-old Asian bull elephant, was trained in the past by being given
jolts from an electric goad when he disobeyed. The 4ft-long goads, also
known as “hotshots”, deliver a charge of at least 4,500 volts
and their use has been condemned as inhumane by animal welfare campaigners.
week The Sunday Times revealed that Woburn, which is known for displaying
animals such as lions and tigers in spacious enclosures, has actually been
locking its big cats up in small cages for up to 18 hours a day when visitors
are not present.
last year the park was also keeping its sealions in chlorinated water, which
one of its own staff said was giving the animals ulcers and leaving them
half-blind. The latest disclosure is embarrassing for Woburn Safari Park
as it is emphasising how well-trained Raja is in order to appeal a prohibition
notice by Central Bedfordshire council over the safety of its bull elephant
an informant told the council that Raja had succeeded in escaping briefly
from his pen last November, officials ordered immediate measures to be taken
for fear of him doing so again. By agreeing to have a member of staff present
whenever Raja is in his paddock Woburn has been able to comply with the
notice, which was issued in April, pending a more permanent solution. The
park, however, insist that the issuing of the notice itself was an overraction
because Raja has a particularly docile nature, even though bull elephants
are generally considered to be unpredictable and dangerous animals.
has now submitted a “character reference” for Raja to the council
insisting that he is “an extremely laid back bull” and therefore
not a grave danger to the public. Jonathan
Cracknell, a vet who specialises in elephants, wrote: “Raja is a manageable
bull and this is a reflection of his individual nature but also that of
the combined experience and knowledgeable [sic] of the elephant team at
relationship built up with Raja over the last 13 years whilst he has been
at Woburn allow the staff to have a solid understanding of Raja and how
he should be managed on a daily basis.”
written appeal over the notice Woburn also stated: “Raja is one of
only two elephants in Europe which are thought to be sufficiently manageable
to be used for an artificial insemination programme and he is also an elephant
who responds obediently to the commands of his keepers.”
Potter, Woburn’s chief executive, added: “Raja is known to be
one of the best trained and most calm and manageable bull elephants in Europe.”
he became to be so manageable is now open to question, however. It is understood
that the electric goad was used on Raja within a few years of him arriving
at Woburn in 1997. Its use has since been discontinued.
Redmond, of the Captive Animals’ Protection Society, said: “To
hear that electric goads may have been used on an elephant at Woburn Safari
Park will disturb many people who have previously been unaware of how animals
are treated in zoos.
goads have been criticised by many experts. Elephants may be the largest
land mammal on the planet but they are generally a caring and sensitive
animal. However, abuse them with electric shocks or bull hooks and you shouldn’t
be surprised if they seek their revenge at a later stage.”
council said that Woburn had confirmed the use of the goad on Raja in the
past to its officials during their inspections this year. Budge Wells, a
Central Bedfordshire councillor and the authority’s assistant portfolio
holder for safer communities and healthier lifestyles, said: “As soon
as we became aware of concerns regarding Raja the elephant’s training
in the past we spoke with staff at Woburn Safari Park regarding negative
forms of encouragement.
confirmed that this practice had stopped and had not been used for a number
of years. We have had no other allegations made that would suggest otherwise
and we consider this matter to be closed.”
which is now building new and better homes for its lions and tigers to accommodate
them overnight, admitted that the goad had been used on Raja in the past.
said: “The device was used at Woburn Safari Park many years ago without
the involvement, prior knowledge or approval of anyone now employed at the
disagree with this practice. Raja’s temperament is due to the skill
and levels of care given by our highly experienced elephant team using positive
reinforcement training and mutual trust.”
animals suffering in cramped cages 20/6/10 read