16 febrero 2009
Lonely elephant 'could die of sadness'
The only elephant in Barcelona zoo could die of sadness unless she is moved to a bigger enclosure with other elephants, animal rights campaigners have warned.
Susi the elephant at the Barcelona Zoo in Spain Photo: AP
Susi, a 36-year-old African elephant cow who was born in the wild on the African savannah, has reportedly been suffering depression since Alicia, her female companion of six years died early last year.
The animal rights charity Libera claims the elephant is showing classic symptoms of unhappiness and boredom that include eating her own excrement and repeatedly swaying her head and trunk from side to side.
"Her life is in serious danger," said the group who launched an internet campaign to help save Susi.
They are petitioning for her to be moved from the concrete enclosure measuring 1,000 square metres (1,200 sq yards) where she is currently housed to a safari park environment with other elephants.
"The European Association of Zoo and Aquariums recommends that elephants live in herds and in enclosures of no less than two hectares, (five acres)" the group said.
Keepers at Barcelona zoo have said Susi is in good health but admitted that her living conditions were not ideal. The zoo plans to expand the elephant compound within two years and introduce new animals that will provide companionship to Susi.
But Alejandra Garcia of Libera said the situation needed addressing immediately.
"Susi won't last," she told Spanish daily newspaper El Pais.
There has been a move against keeping elephants in cramped enclosures at city zoos. In 2002 London Zoo moved its elephants from their compound in Regent's Park to a spacious new home at Whipsnade wild animal park in the Chilterns ending a 170 year tradition of keeping elephants in central London.