Plans to capture wild animals in Namibia and sending them to live in a zoo in Cuba as part of a deal reached with President Raul Castro in 2009 are underway and have sparked outcry from wildlife enthusiasts and conservationists.
The plan – Operation Noah’s Ark – involves capturing 148 animals, including elephants, black and white rhinos and lions from Namibia’s Waterberg National Park, quarantining them and flying them to Cuba’s 845 acre National Zoological Park, which is already home to 850 animals.
“It is saddening to note that these animals will be taken out of their natural habitats and sent to a strange land where they will be deprived of freedom and be totally dependent on humans for their daily needs,” said a spokesman for South Africa’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Concerns have also been raised about the trauma that will be caused by separating family groups, how the animals will fair during long travel and how they will adapt to a change to a tropical climate and to captivity.
“No matter the country, elephants do not fare well in zoos, where they endure captivity-caused diseases, including painful foot infections and crippling arthritis, that result in early deaths. The most recent science has found that elephants in zoos die decades sooner than those in the wild,” according to In Defense of Animals, who is also campaigning against the deal.
Some of the other animals to face similar fates include hyenas, vultures, jackals, ostriches and honey badgers, among others.
Conservationists also argue that the capture and transport is only being done for commercial reasons, with the animals having an estimated value of $1 million.
This deal may also be the beginning of more to come. Namibian Tourism and Environment Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah called the quarantine facilities that were built an investment in the future and hopes to move more animals to other parks.
Please sign the petition asking Namibia’s Tourism and Environmental Minister to stop this plan and instead protect wildlife in their natural habitat.
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