Don’t Use Baby Elephant as “Gift”


Target: Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena

Goal: Find a more appropriate gift than a live baby elephant for New Zealand’s prime minister.

To solidify strengthening relations between New Zealand and Sri Lanka, a baby elephant by the name of Nandi is being gifted to Prime Minister John Key. However, New Zealand animal rights organization SAFE is “deadly opposed” to bringing another elephant into the country, their first of many reasons being that transporting and caring for an elephant in captivity is extravagantly more expensive than maintaining them in the wild. It is also shown through studies that elephants do very badly in captivity. However, the most important reason is that female elephants often never leave their mothers or mother figures. Even though Nandi was orphaned, she will be brutally ripped away from her family and sold to solidify foreign relations.

Just a short time ago, the world was applauding Sri Lanka for banning ivory and destroying confiscated ivory they had in storage. One would think, with this apparent show of support for the protection of elephants, that they would be more wary of shipping off their own. Even just one elephant, even an elephant from a so-called orphanage. Nandi is being taken from her home and shipped thousands of miles to a foreign land with foreign people and foreign environment to live in a cage as entertainment.

Elephants are living creatures, they are sentient, and they deserve better than being reduced to bargaining chips between politicians. Nandi is also not the first elephant to be sent to New Zealand from Sri Lanka, as another was sold to them last year.

Sign and urge President Sirisena to work with Prime Minister Key to find another token of strengthening diplomatic relations. Surely there are better things besides displaced animals that would suffice as a token of goodwill. Urge them not to force suffering on Nandi for political and monetary gain.


Dear President Sirisena,

After a visit from Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand, news came to light that Sri Lanka planned to gift a five-year-old elephant as a symbol of good will. While it is great to see countries coming together and strengthening positive political relations, those relations should not be solidified with the “gift” of another’s life. When Sri Lanka destroyed their stock pile of ivory and banned trade of the product, there was hope that support would be thrown behind preserving elephants. However, with the news of Nandi’s impending deportation to New Zealand that hope has dwindled.

So few elephants remain, and so many studies show how terribly they do in captivity, that it’s heart breaking to watch another one sentenced to this misery. She will be caged in a foreign land and foreign environment with capricious visitors gawking at her like a commodity. Not to mention the exorbitant price of shipping an elephant to New Zealand and then caring for her.

It is shown that elephants suffer when torn from their family groups, especially female elephants. Nandi has already suffered the misfortune of being an orphan, do not add onto her suffering by treating her as an object to be thrown to the wind for political relations. Seek out an alternative method of symbolizing this goodwill, something that does not involve treating another’s life so flippantly. Stand behind preserving elephants in the wild, rather than supporting the rampant abuse exorcised by zoos in obtaining wild animals to imprison for entertainment.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: NZ Herald

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  1. end the captivity on any elephants now.

  2. Wendy Morrison says:

    Baby elephants deserve to be with their Mommas like all other baby animals!

  3. Kae Blecha, OTR says:

    Though the baby elephant is meant to strengthen ties, it will only create a more awkward situation. Bad diplomacy. New Zealand is a modern nation, and giving exotic animals as gifts is a 19th Century mindset. Have you no local artisans who can craft a uniquely Sri Lankan memento, Sri Lanka?

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