In late July investigators making routine rounds at Malaysia zoos were shocked to uncover a baby elephant shacked in a compound hidden from public view at the Johor Zoo. The elephant named Paloh was chained so tightly she could only move a step or two in any direction and was forced to stand upright for 48 hours at a time in the hot sun.
Sean Whyte, chief executive of the animal rights organization Nature Alert told Free Malaysia Today, “Checking on Malaysia’s zoos we have come to expect the worst, but this cruelty to a baby elephant is one of the most sadistic treatments of a wild animal we have witnessed so far.”
“Her legs were so weak they began to buckle.”
Zoo officials told Whyte the 2-year-old elephant had been chained as a part of her “training” to teach her to obey the zookeepers. Paloh is one of two orphaned baby elephants at Johor Zoo. A 3-year-old male named Jeli is also being held there.
Johor Zoo is no stranger to controversy. In 2010 it was found to be operating a shop that sold illegal wildlife and it is home to Shirley, the chain-smoking orangutan who made international news earlier this year.
Less than 24 hours after Nature Alert made their findings public, outraged animal lovers from all over the world set up a social media network to free baby Paloh from her chains. Protestors bombarded the Malaysian embassy in London according to The Mirror and thousands sent letters to the Malaysian Prime Minister.
On July 29 Paloh was unshackled and joined her buddy Jeli in the elephant enclosure at the zoo.
She was quickly seen by visitors “trotting behind her male friend, Jeli, with the freedom to search for fruit in the moat around her new enclosure,” reported The Mirror.
But the fight to help Paloh and Jeli is not over. Advocates want them removed from the filthy compound at the zoo and sent to a sanctuary.
Free Malaysia Today explained why this is so important to their health and future. “While the herd travels through the dense forests of Malaysia, the calves will suckle on their mothers’ milk until they reach the age of four to five years.
‘Paloh’ and ‘Jeli’ who are only 2 and 3-years-old deserve the same tender nurturing care as how an elephant mother would provide them.
Keepers in any zoo who raise these young are their surrogate mothers. It is most unfortunate that these young calves are being shackled for training purposes to make them ‘behave’ at Johor Zoo.”
Whyte said, “While it is wonderful to see Paloh free of her chains and reunited with Jeli, neither elephant should remain at Johor Zoo. It’s torture to keep elephants this way.”
Photo from naturealert.org via flickr.