Animal rights groups have called the pregnancy of an elephant in an Australian zoo the animal equivalent of a sex crime.
Thong Dee is an Asian elephant at Sydney’s Taronga zoo. The exotic animal is nine years old, still a juvenile in elephant terms. So while the zoo celebrates, animal rights groups are up in arms.
Erica Martin, Asia-Pacific Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said: “It is completely irresponsible.” She described the zoo permitting the young elephant to conceive as “the equivalent of allowing your 12-year-old daughter to become pregnant.” Martin said that 11 is the minimum age at which captive elephants should begin to breed.
Despite the negative publicity from animal rights organizations, the zoo is ecstatic over the elephant’s pregnancy. Taronga Zoo director Guy Cooper said: “The zoo is proud to announce this historic event.” The birth will be the first by a captive elephant in Australia.
Thong Dee was one of eight Asian elephants sent from Thailand to the zoo in 2006. She’s been surrounded by controversy from the beginning, as animal rights groups protested against the animals being kept in captivity. Thong Dee and her fellow imports joined the zoo’s captive breeding program for the endangered species.