Four zoos in the UK (Whipsnade Zoo, Colchester Zoo, West Midlands Safari Park and Woburn Safari Park) still use an ankus (‘bullhook’) to train elephants.
We are calling on you to help bring an end to this archaic and cruel treatment of elephants.
As seen in this image, taken from the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) Elephant Training Booklet, each keeper is holding an ankus – a two or three-foot-long stick with a metal point and hook on one end to train elephants from a young age. Whilst under the command of an ankus, elephants are unable to exercise control over their own environment, leading to psychological distress and stereotypical behaviour, such as swaying and nodding.
As long-lived animals, elephants have incredible memories, surpassing that of many other species. Elephants remember once being threatened by an ankus and ‘behave’ this way through fear of physical and psychological torment.
The main use of the ankus in UK zoos is to ensure the elephants can ‘perform’ and ‘behave’ to a paying public. Many of the behaviours you will see expressed by an elephant in captivity, in front of a crowd, are unnatural and have been learnt over time by keepers using the ankus. With a different management approach (Protected Contact) elephants and keepers do not share the same space, providing elephants with freedom of choice, leading to positive welfare ramifications.
Other countries around the world are leading the way in captive elephant training and the UK needs to follow suit. Many zoos have found that keepers don’t have to wield a sharp and potentially abusive tool while standing next to an elephant to get the animal to comply.
The use of the ankus is decreasing in Europe, with over 50% of zoos no longer using the tool.
In the USA, a policy introduced in 2014 by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) requires that all AZA-accredited facilities prohibit staff and elephants from being in the same space, with some limited exceptions.
This means that elephants are protected from handlers (and the abusive instruments they wield) and that handlers will be protected from elephants.
Currently in the UK there are no policies in place and the ankus can be used legally.
Therefore newborn elephant calves at these four UK zoos will be trained to perform for the public through the fear of an ankus unless we, as the UK public, call for better treatment of captive elephants.
In partnership with the Born Free Foundation, we have released a joint statement calling for change and we urgently need your support to help drive this campaign. Whilst elephants in the UK are confined in captivity, we must do all we can to ensure they are free from abuse, pain and suffering.
iworry is a campaign by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT who are best known for their pioneering efforts in rescuing and hand-rearing orphaned infant elephants, many the victims of ivory poaching.
To date DSWT have successfully rescued over 150 orphaned elephants to rehabilitate them back into the wild where they rightly belong. Foster an elephant today for $50 / £35 and help ensure the DSWT Keepers can provide the orphans with the love and care they desperately need to survive. With your fostering you will receive monthly updates on your chosen orphan from Dame Daphne Sheldrick, founder of the DSWT.More Info
Please download, print and share iworry materials to help spread the word.
To help reach more people, we are working on the production of various materials, all of which will be added here. These materials, written in English and Mandarin, can be printed at home, or people might prefer to print larger numbers with a professional printers.
They can be used to help inform and educate more people about what is happening to elephants and the urgent need for everyone to take steps to save the elephants.
From each corner of the globe we are urging people who want to protect elephants to stand up proudly with their poster and to help make a difference.
Download and print off the isupport poster and tell us where and why you are standing up for elephants:
Tweet your poster to @iworrytrade to make it onto our hall of fame. If you don’t have twitter, please email your photos. Please use the hashtag #1every15 on twitter to show your support for elephants.
Supporters around the world are standing up for elephants. Please see below the people currently supporting iworry.
100% of the price of these gifts will directly fund projects run by the DSWT to protect Africa’s wildlife.
Support our iworry campaign by displaying our new 'One Every Fifteen Minutes' car stickers on the inside of your window or car window.
Car bumper stickers also available.
Price: £2.00 / $2.84Buy Now
A simple way to spread the word about iworry and the poaching crisis. Wear yours with pride! (Also available in Mandarin Chinese)
Price: £2.00 / $2.84
Medium & Large