Elephant death at Noah's Ark Zoo Farm prompts backlash from animal charity

M’Changa arrived at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in 2014. Credit: Noah's Ark Zoo Farm

A charity that campaigns for a ban on animals in captivity has described the death of an elephant at a zoo near Bristol as "truly shocking".

On Tuesday 22 June keepers from Noah's Ark Zoo Farm in Wraxall, North Somerset, revealed their African elephant, M'Changa, had died from an attack by another elephant.

The Born Free Foundation said the news "once again highlights just how inappropriate it is to keep elephants in captivity" and is asking the Government to review the law.

"Zoos can never provide suitable environments for these highly intelligent and socially-complex animals," said Born Free's Head of Policy Mark Jones.

"Sadly, these kinds of tragedies are inevitable when animals are forced to live in close proximity in socially inappropriate groups.

"The outdoor enclosure at Noah’s Ark, reported to be 20 acres, is large for a zoo, but for an elephant it’s a tiny space."

The elephants at Noah's Ark Zoo Farm are given 24-hour access to the inside and outside of their enclosure. Credit: Noah's Ark Zoo Farm

M'Changa was sleeping when another bull elephant from the Zoo entered his enclosure.

Noah's Ark Zoo Farm has confirmed that an investigation into the incident is taking place, which will try and establish how another attack can be prevented in future.

In response to the allegations made by Born Free, a spokesperson from the North Somerset zoo said:

"Regarding our zoo licence, Noah’s Ark, along with all other BIAZA zoos, undergo regular full zoo inspections. Our last formal zoo licence inspection took place in 2019, after Shaka’s arrival at the zoo and 5 years since M’Changa and Janu’s arrival.

"The zoo’s elephant facility and programme were specifically commended by zoo licence inspectors. The elephants selected for the programme were decided in close consultation with the African Elephant European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), our dedicated elephant team and leading elephant specialists.

"An important aspect of the programme is to create an environment that younger bulls could learn natural behaviour from each other, to facilitate positive development and behaviours.

"Elephant Eden is a very carefully designed facility with 24hr outdoor access, with the zoo able to monitor the elephant movements and behaviours 24hrs a day.

"Events leading up to the incident showed no indication that an incident was likely to take place. Even though an area to flee to was always available to M’Changa, this incident occurred whilst M’Changa slept."

Staff from the site said they are "distraught" and are currently being supported.

Read more: