In the spring of 2017, PETA published images that showed how baby elephants in the Hannover Adventure Zoo have been beaten and tormented so that they can perform circus-like tricks for visitors. The zookeepers use the elephant hook – a stick with a pointed metal hook – to make the animals docile. PETA subsequently filed criminal charges.
During the ongoing investigation, an eyewitness told us about further maltreatment of elephants at the Hannover Zoo. She also watched the elephants being beaten arbitrarily and violently by the zookeepers. Here is an excerpt from her report:
“The orderlies entered the enclosure and immediately there was stress among the animals. What I saw then still makes me very angry and incredibly sad today. […] I saw a zoo keeper directly approach an elephant and forcefully (he hit his arm) rammed the hook into his skin. “
Peta has forwarded the eyewitness’s observations to the relevant prosecutor and filed a criminal complaint.
What happened after that?
August 2017: preliminary investigation is closed
The public prosecutor’s office had appointed three highly biased experts from zoo-close circles as experts.
First report: “In the situations shown on the video sequences, however, it should be recognized that the animals would have suffered considerable pain, suffering and damage, although here are no signs of rawness recognizable.
The infliction of considerable pain or suffering, however, was repeated as evidenced by the evidence provided. “
Second report: “Although it comes in some sequences to an exaggerated and inappropriate use of the elephant hook, the evidence for a very strict and hard training at the Zoo Hannover documented; the film scenes are too short overall to be able to make a comprehensive assessment. In addition, it was not conclusively shown to what extent it actually came to a significant physical impairment of an elephant”.
Even these statements and indicia were considered inadequate to bring charges against the elephant torments. In addition, the prosecution argues: “Neither images nor on video sequences concrete injuries were recognizable.”
October 2017: PETA submits new expert opinion.
We laid the long-standing elephant curator and zoo vet of the Cologne zoo, Dr. med. Olaf Behlert, video recordings for review.
Dr. Olaf Behlert spent more than 25 years curating elephants and 30 years as a zoo veterinarian in the Cologne Zoo before retiring in 2016 due to age.
Complaint to the Attorney General
In his 18-page evaluation of the footage, which lasts several hours, the expert leaves no doubt that the elephants were intentionally causing considerable suffering by the staff and that “clear and serious violations of the animal protection law” exist.
PETA has lodged a complaint with the Prosecutor General’s Office against the termination of the preliminary investigation and the opinion of Dr. Ing. Behlert is now submitted as additional evidence.
January 2018: termination of preliminary investigation confirmed
Attorney General in Celle has confirmed the termination of the preliminary investigation. The reason: It was not sufficiently proven that the elephants were treated by the violent handling in the zoo Hannover “significant pain and suffering”.
Summer 2018: Attitude without elephant hook begins
In the summer of 2018, the Zoo Hannover has begun with provisional measures to switch to “protected contact” in which the elephants are no longer beaten with the elephant hook.
However, the zoo also sent a family of five Asian elephants to the Belgian zoo, Pairi Daiza, to make way for the enclosure.
For show performances and daily riding, the zoo in Brussels trains the elephants with the elephant hook – so they are exposed to further maltreatment there.
How do we proceed now??
We will continue to work to stop the maltreatment of elephants in German zoos! No matter what kind of housing a zoo practices, elephants can never live in an appropriate way in captivity.
You can also help us fight zoos in the zoo: Please visit no zoos and tell friends and acquaintances about the suffering lives of elephants in zoos.
My comment: The Hannover “Adventure” Zoo received grants worth three million euros from the city in 2010. New data on state subsidies are not available.
One thing is certain: this prison is (also) supported by the state.
The director must go – and the perpetrators must be punished. Because these do not work as a passion, they torture with enthusiasm.
To the pain of the animals comes the fear. The elephants are helplessly at the mercy of the psychopaths who torture them. The adult elephants can only watch their children being beaten. It stresses the life in the zoo anyway extremely. While hiking in freedom up to 80 kilometers a day, they are locked in these prisons in the smallest of spaces.
There are a few stupid parents who think that they can teach their children the life of the wild animals, when they visit with them the inmates and look into what a miserable life we humans have condemned these animals.
The only animal that causes the captivity of other animals and still finds it great, is the human being!
My best regards to all, Venus