Letters to the editor - September 21

Noah’s Ark

YOUR correspondents G Horrocks and Liz Tyson say they are against us keeping elephants here, because zoos do not do the job well enough at present and Best Practice recommendations are beyond our ability.

They make our case for us. The present standards of zoo elephant keeping must improve, according to Lord Henley of DEFRA. Our whole purpose is to do that.

As for the Best Practice recommendations, they are in writing. We are working towards keeping all of these eventually.

We could easily go beyond them and provide 20 acres here (and may do so, if we include a pylon in their field), or even 50 acres, but space is not the only important factor and the public would not be able to see the animals, which would reduce the educational benefits of sanctuary. The super-rich can go to the wild to see elephants; most of our visitors will never be able to.


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We agree with the WWF in its alarm that numbers of wild Asian Elephants have shrunk to 25-32,000 in the last few years. Western Lowland Gorillas are quoted at 150-200,000, by comparison. Unless we can encourage the conservation of these great creatures, which live alongside 20 per cent of the world’s population, they could disappear in a few years. There is an adequate population of elephantus maximus in captivity, provided we look after them and can keep breeding them healthily.

There is deception being spread by a some dogma-driven charities who ought to do better. Several of them support captive elephants provided they do not breed, because of their unannounced agenda to eventually get rid of all captive elephants. How cruel is that? Every instinct in the wild is towards the freedom to mate and then care for and mother their young. The whole social structure is in maternal groups. So how is that replicated by putting strange female elephants together, deny them the right to breed, and watch them fade and die?

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Although we will be willing to begin with elephants that are not getting on in smaller enclosures, our best ambition would be to find a maternal female trio in surplus within Europe, as Dublin Zoo has, with one or more pregnant, and a male and allow them to breed naturally when they are ready.

We agree with the Smithsonian Institution National Zoo (SINZ) that to keep existing elephants in captivity encourages the public to value them by seeing, hearing and even smelling them.

These elephants can also be a vital means of medical research for wild elephants. Diseases like elephant herpes have worrying potential to wild populations, already under threat from physical conflict. Sri Lanka suffers, according to SINZ, 150 elephant deaths and 50-100 people deaths in the elephant/human struggle for life.

We sincerely hope that people of North Somerset will encourage us by helping us build this uniquely, for Europe, huge enclosure and barn, with swimming pool and sand yards. Here they will migrate round willow woodland, grassland and cropland grown especially for them; wallow in mud and have enriched large night and winter housing.

Our rhinos and giraffe are happy all winter, so elephants can be the same if we make the effort.

ANTHONY BUSH

Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm, Wraxall

Light opera

WE WISH to record our congratulations to everyone involved in the Clevedon Light Opera Junior (CLOC) production of Our House at Princes Hall, Clevedon, September 14-17.

This was a remarkably polished performance worthy of appearance on any major stage. All members of the cast were obviously enjoying themselves and their timing, clarity of voice and overall vibrancy had the audience clapping and cheering throughout the show. What we saw and so thoroughly enjoyed, was the result of many hours of rehearsal and preparation. Well done and thank you all - we look forward to ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ next March.

WENDY AND GEOFF MOORE

Cambridge Road, Clevedon

Enforcing

SURPRISE! One day last week I saw a policeman remonstrating with a white van driver who had parked on the zig-zag lines adjacent to a pedestrian crossing.

Since this and parking in non-designated spaces are regular occurrences and would appear to be against the ‘commonsense’ approach as well as being illegal, will we now be seeing other police persons enforcing the law in our High Street and surrounding areas?

R P HAZELTON

Roath Road, Portishead

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