Having lived in Zimbabwe for many years and over that time visited several of our enormous game parks, it is most distressing to read of the horrendous treatment of Maggie the elephant held captive in the Alaska Zoo. In this country it is possible to camp by the Zambezi and live among the wildlife in its own habitat. On one such visit to Mana Pools Game Reserve, we camped on the edge of the Zambezi. The two tents were pitched each side of the pathway the elephants used to come up from the river. During the night I awoke and, looking up, saw an elephant's trunk exploring the top of the tent I was in. Quietly and gently it stepped delicately between the two tents and continued into the darkness of the park. This elephant was no prisoner behind bars but a wild elephant whose space it let us share.
Having watched the traumas and tribulations of Maggie, in the hands of ignorant and uncaring men, what is there to be said?
That it is foolish to think an elephant can possibly be at home or happy in such a climate as Alaska. Ignorant, because there obviously is no understanding of the needs of an African or any other elephant in their care. Uncaring, because for selfish reasons of their own, they create a monstrosity in the form of a treadmill for exercise.
One may well ask, are you running a zoo or a circus? The latter it seems. The facile cartoon in one of your Sunday papers, some time ago, paired with the inane captions, show how little compassion the public as well as the zoo authorities have for the poor animals in their care.
What hope has Maggie got?
None, one would imagine, unless laws are passed to protect the inmates of these selfish, materialistic emporiums. Laws that specify that only those holding qualifications relating to the species in their care can protect these unfortunate creatures.
Where there is no sense there is no feeling. Where there is no compassion, God help humanity and the animal kingdom.
Martin and Frances Hobbs. / Harare, Zimbabwe