UK Sets Elephants Free, Outlaws Keeping Them Captive in Zoos and Safari Parks

Kids will no longer see elephants at the zoo in England, and that’s great news for elephants, who “go crazy” in captivity, animal rights advocates claim

Elephant compulsively swinging his trunk in pen.

Animal rights advocates have won a huge victory in the United Kingdom.

Just a year after freeing elephants from circuses, they’ve now freed them from zoos and safari parks, which are not large enough for the giant mammals to engage in their natural behaviors and drive them to mental illness, according to the Born Free Foundation.

The ban is part of larger zoo reform legislation that will include a ban on keeping any animals in captivity solely for entertainment purposes, according to the Daily Mail.

As the largest animal in the zoo, elephants are among those most at risk of suffering from “zoochosis”  – a term coined by the Born Free Foundation to describe the obsessive-compulsive, repetitive behaviors of bored, frustrated, lonely animals locked up in cages including pacing and circling, licking walls, biting bars, neck twisting, head bobbing, swaying and rocking.

In addition to mental illness, captive elephants suffer from many physical illnesses, including crippling arthritis, and live on average for just 17 years compared to 50 in the wild.

The existing population of 51 zoo elephants in the UK will remain in captivity until death, but no more will be bred or captured from the wild.

The new law ends a 700+ year history of elephants in captivity in England. The first arrived in 1255, as a gift to Henry III from Louis IX of France.