The surviving 23 baby elephants exported to China from Zimbabwe are to be held for a minimum of two years in tiny cages at a Chinese quarantine facility with only a small concrete yard to exercise in.

Network for Animals has discovered that the elephants are destined for a new zoo being built in Qingyuan, a city in southern China, but the zoo will only be ready to take them in 2018, at the earliest.  Until then the babies will be held in conditions so bad that they are unlikely to survive.

Network for Animals’ African director David Barritt travelled to China where he tried to persuade Chinese authorities to provide better living conditions for the elephants.  “The elephants are all sick and display serious wounds and other signs of being in poor condition,” said Barritt.  “The chances of them surviving in these conditions are very poor. We have visual evidence that the elephants are crammed together in tiny cages and are allowed out for one or two hours a day into a barred concrete yard that gives them no room to exercise. These are appalling conditions that are deadly for their health and mental well-being.  If disease and ill-treatment doesn’t kill them, the mental anguish they are enduring will.”

Yesterday (Jan 4 2016) Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Zimbabwe’s environment minister, who is on a visit to China, claimed the elephants were being well treated and that Zimbabwe intended to increase its export of wildlife, including elephants.

“What the Minister says is completely untrue,” said Barritt. “All anyone has to do to find out the truth for themselves is to watch the video on Network for Animals website. “These elephants are not in good condition and the way in which they are being treated will lead to their deaths.”

“I am shocked that the Minister could say such things and hope to get away with it. Certainly the Chinese government would be most unwise to accept more wild animals from Zimbabwe if they are to be treated like these poor babies.”