INTERVIEW: African elephant Shankar lonely at Delhi zoo

Side profile of Shankar, animal news
African elephant Shankar at Delhi zoo, photo: Nikita Dhawan, Youth for Animals

The 26-year old male African elephant Shankar has been living alone at Delhi Zoo for years, Nikita Dhawan, founder of the Indian animal rights organization Youth For Animals, told The Animal Reader.

On Thursday, Delhi High Court will decide what will happen with the elephant, whether the zoo should release him or provide the elephant with better surroundings and other animals.

When Shankar was just a baby, he was kidnapped from the wild in Africa and put on a plane to India. He has been at Delhi zoo ever since. In the beginning, he had a female friend named Vambai, but she passed away in 2001, and Shankar has been living alone since then, Dhawan said.

The Central Zoo Authority of India forbade keeping an elephant alone for more than six months in 2009, but Shankar has been alone for almost twenty years, Dhawan said.

Dhawan and her team found a suitable solution for Shankar. Animal conversation charity The Aspinall Foundation agreed to help with the transportation and relocation of Shankar to an African sanctuary, Dhawan said. 

In November, Delhi Zoo Director Sonali Ghosh told The Indian Express that she had asked parks in Africa to find Shankar a mate or take him back.

Almost 200,000 people have signed an online petition asking to release Shanker. “If Shankar’s solitary captivity does not end immediately, he will meet the same fate as Vambai, who died in the zoo,” the petition said.

Watch the full interview with Nikita Dhawan here


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