Stand Up for 36 Baby Elephants Ripped from their Mothers in Zimbabwe

Care2 petitions have helped countless animals around the world, and a handful of celebrities along with thousands of petition signers are hoping that trend will continue, this time to save a group of baby elephants from Zimbabwe that were ripped from their families.

The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) recently rounded up 36 baby elephants, between two and a half and five years old, along with 10 lion cubs and 10 rare sable antelope.

As the Care2 petition explains, Zimbabwe’s government plans to sell and ship the elephants overseas, along with the lion cubs and sable antelopes.

Zimbabwe’s government has admitted to capturing the baby elephants for international export, despite receiving warnings that taking baby elephants from their mothers can kill them, so activists plan to deliver this Care2 petition with more than 164,000 signatures (and counting) to Zimbabwean Parliament to protest the move.

Here’s how they were caught: Witnesses saw government helicopters and ground teams fire shots above the elephants’ heads, separating the baby elephants from the herd. The baby elephants simply couldn’t keep up with the rest of the group. Government officials then roped the young animals together.

The young animals are being temporarily held in wooden pens in Hwange National Park.

Model and Peace 4 Animals founder Katie Cleary and animal welfare group Social Compassion founder Judie Mancuso authored the Care2 petition, and activists from various groups plan to deliver the petition.

News of the capture first came to light in November in a report by an activist group called Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, which warned:

The baby elephants quite likely won’t survive the trip and the only crime they have committed is being born in Zimbabwe. They are now being sentenced to a life of inhumane treatment. This is very traumatic, not only for the baby elephants but also for their families. Elephants don’t forget.

Johnny Rodrigues, an activist who leads the group, told National Geographic that Zimbabwe’s wildlife officials “don’t listen to scientists, to reason, to people who study these animals. We should bring our laws on par with the world. And we do not.”

Sadly, but not surprisingly, one of the captured baby elephants has reportedly died. The remaining 35 calves are now set to be exported to undisclosed recipients in the United Arab Emirates, France and/or China.

Here’s a chilling fact pointed out in National Geographic: Zimbabwe exported eight elephants to China back in 2012, and most are now reported to be dead.

Where exactly this latest group of kidnapped baby elephants is headed to next may not be entirely clear, as reports vary, but animal advocates are standing up to say ‘sending these animals anywhere but back with their families in the wild is just plain wrong.’

The Care2 petition asks U.S. Consulates for China, Zimbabwe and the UAE to stop the transport and rehabilitate and release the animals.

Photo from Pierce Brosnan's Facebook page

Photo from Pierce Brosnan’s Facebook page

Adding to the star power rising up in defense of the captured baby animals is James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan, who on Dec. 8 weighed in on the issue on his Facebook page, writing, “I am deeply saddened to learn that 36 baby elephants have been brutally taken from their mothers and are currently awaiting shipment to the UAE and possibly China. We need your help and voices to protect these babies and to stop this shipment of wildlife cargo.”

His words are posted underneath a heartbreaking picture of some of the caged baby elephants.

Lukas Nelson, son of Willie Nelson, also chimed in on the subject, sharing, “We must not let our human culture destroy the lives of these creatures and so damage the structure of our own moral integrity beyond repair.”

Cleary hopes her Care2 petition will urge U.S. officials to step in and stop the export, pointing out that Zimbabwe’s export is in conflict with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the international agreement between countries that’s supposed to protect wildlife against over-exploitation.

National Geographic points out that CITES categorizes Zimbabwe’s elephants under Appendix II, meaning they’re not threatened with immediate extinction, and under CITES, wild elephants can be legally traded for, among other things, zoos, “commercial” purposes, and “personal” reasons.

Sad but true.

The Care2 petition contends that shipping the baby animals off is in violation of the agreement because CITES does not allow the export of animals under six years of age.

7 Things You Should Know About Elephants

1. Being held captive in a circus or in zoos is a fate worse than death for elephants, according to renowned expert Joyce Poole.

2. Elephant calves separated from their mothers suffer emotional trauma.

3. Elephants have a more developed hippocampus, a brain region responsible for emotion and spatial awareness, than any other animal.

4. An elephant herd is considered one of the most closely knit societies of any animal, and a female will only leave it if she dies or is captured by humans.

5. Wild elephants have long life spans and typically live to 60-70 years of age. Captive elephants have significantly lower life spans and are usually dead before the age of 40.

6. Elephants in the wild live in large family units, sometimes as many as 100 members, while captive elephants are deprived of the basic necessity of family and socialization.

7. Elephants are very attentive mothers, and because most elephant behavior has to be learned, they keep their offspring with them for many years. Once weaned usually at age 4 or 5, the calf still remains in the maternal group.

Unless, of course, it is forcibly removed from its herd by humans and shipped off to a foreign land.

For the recently abducted elephants, lions and antelopes in Zimbabwe, it’s possible that intense pressure from the international community will convince the Zimbabwe government to do the right thing and rehabilitate and return the captured baby animals to the wild where they belong. Every petition signature adds to that pressure, so please consider signing if you agree that these young animals belong in the wild, with their parents.

Will you sign? The Care2 petition to Stop the Illegal Export and Sale of Wild Baby Elephants, Lion Cubs and Sable Antelope says, “This sale must not go forward! Please sign to tell the US consulates for Zimbabwe, China and UAE that you want this deal stopped and the animals rehabilitated and released.”

Start a petition: For many, it’s hard to read about injustices inflicted upon innocent animals. But Care2 petitions give citizens like you the power to do something about it. So if you hear about animals being mistreated, consider creating your own petition to give a voice to the voiceless.



Melania Padilla
Melania P3 years ago

Zimbabwe should be fined with a lot of money; these animals don't belong to anybody. Shame on them!

Magdalena C.
Past Member 3 years ago

Thank you!

Jim Ven
Jim Ven4 years ago

thanks for the article.

Jessica C.
Jessica C4 years ago

sickening :(

Paulinha Russell
Paulinha Russell4 years ago

Signed. Thank you for sharing

marisol melgarejo


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Val D.
Val D4 years ago

I cry inside every time I read or learn about the abuse of elephants. It's just so obviously wrong. And shame on circuses for using them and other animals for profit. I have refused to attend circuses for 30 years now and I spread awareness among those I know who have absolutely no clue. Too many "main stream" people are just ignorant about this issue.

Jinny L.

Extremely heartless, disturbing and absolutely unacceptable. Signed. Thanks for posting.

angela l.
Angela L4 years ago

These stupid greedy bastards can never learn a lesson until their children be caught and tortured by other bastards, only then they know how it feels to lose their loved ones. What goes around comes around!!! Their evil deeds will come back to bite them.