As per an order from the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) of India, “elephants have been banned from zoo collection throughout the country with immediate effect”. The order stipulates that all elephants kept at zoos should be immediately relocated to elephant camps and rehabilitation centres of the Forest Department or inside forest areas.

The order has been sent to all in charges of the zoos in the country and the Chief Wildlife Warden of the States. K.P. Ouseph, Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife and Chief Wildlife Warden) of Kerala confirmed receiving the order from Rajesh Gopal, Member Secretary of CZA on Tuesday.

The order states that upkeep of large animals like elephants are not only costly but create problems at zoos. When elephants come into musth the problems get aggravated. Moreover the zoo environment confines the animal to a very small area. The order directs the zoo authorities to carry out the same in consultation with the respective Chief Wildlife Wardens.

Relocating the elephants from the Thiruvananthapuram and Thrissur zoos will take time, it has been reliably understood. This because the controlling authority of these two zoos is the Department of Culture, but in all other States the zoos are under the control of the respective Forest Department.

So the Forest Department will have to first obtain the green signal from the Department of Culture for relocating the elephants. According to sources, the elephants at the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo will be relocated to the Kappukad Elephant Rehabilitation Centre at Neyyar and the elephants are Thrissur to Kodanad.

As per CZA estimates, there are about 140 elephants kept at zoos in various parts of the country. All of them will have to be relocated. Sources said that the order comes in the wake of complaints from animal rights activists about the plight of captive elephants both zoos and under private ownership.

The order however does not talk about captive elephants owned by private individuals. However, the move has been welcomed by animal rights activists.

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