Elephant in Starkenberg among visitors again?

Icon image

In mid-July, a serious attack occurred at a circus-like facility “Safari Park Maeda” in Italy, in which a caged elephant seriously injured a trainer. Now at PETA Germany we have indications that a female elephant ‘Baby’ at Starkenberg’s adventure park in the former Circus Afrika in Thuringia may be in direct contact with visitors again, despite the attack not so long ago.

You can see why we are asking your local veterinary office in Altenburger Land to check the information and, if it is correct, take the injured elephant lady “Baby” and her three companions to a specialist shelter.

An elephant attacks a tamer in Italy: is ‘Bibi’ now again among the visitors to Starkenberg?

Last July, the African elephant “Bibi” was so badly injured by the trainer that the woman was taken to the hospital by rescue helicopter with abdominal injuries. At the time, Pepe was living in a kind of circus in Italy – it seems that her enclosure consisted only of some kind of circus cart with duct tape.

safari park


Posted by Safari Park Maida on Wednesday, July 6, 2022

According to the Italian park, “Bibi” came to northern Germany after the attack. [1] Apparently moved to “Stark Mountain Elephant Reserve”: At the end of August, a former Circus Africa, who now runs Starkenberg Elephant Reserve, posted a video on Facebook showing a visitor apparently spraying water on a new elephant. In addition, four elephants can be seen in the video, although there were previously three animals there. Although the video has since been deleted, we have indications that the newcomer could be the elephant “Baby”.

Elephants suffer in circuses – PETA calls on veterinary authorities to act

We asked the responsible local veterinary office in Altenburger Land to verify the information on whether the elephant in question was “Baby” from Italy. If this is the case, we urgently appeal to the authorities to hand over Pepe (and her three suffering companions) from the Starkenberg adventure park to the professional haven Elephant Haven in southern France in order to prevent another serious accident.

“Elephants are particularly dangerous after life in a circus because they have been mistreated there for years. Against the backdrop of circus director Hardy Wisdom’s neglect of the animals for years, we would not be surprised if this elephant is brought into dangerously close contact with visitors in Starkenberg.”

Peter Hofkin, PETA Specialist

Elephants often get stuck in captivity without warning

Especially elephants that come from circuses and have already shown behavioral problems there that can be very dangerous to deal with. The reason for this is the years of captivity and the harsh training methods of the so-called elephant hook. Because of the accumulated tension and internal stress, it can happen at any time that animals suddenly and without warning attack people. Since 1980, at least 52 people have been killed by elephants and about 145 people have been injured, some seriously. [2]

In Starkenberg, the Gandhi, Tonga, and Moja elephants who live there are also abused for entertainment, and therefore for profit purposes, they are trained and exploited to ride the elephants and take pictures. This is despite the fact that reports confirm that the animals in the former circus of Africa were chained with no job opportunities during the day. At that time, the animals had to endure in the tent icy temperatures close to the freezing point.

Recordings repeatedly document how the three elephants living in Starkenberg “weave”, that is, their heads are stereotypedly tilted. One reviewer categorized this as an advanced stage behavioral disorder, which means permanent mental distress for elephants. [3, 4]

This is how you help elephants and prevent animal suffering

Every ticket sold funds the untold suffering of an animal held in captivity in a zoo or circus. You can actively help the suffering elephants and other wildlife by spending your free time caring for the animals. These exciting activities aren’t just fun for kids – and they help many animals!

  • Sources

    [1] Posted on Facebook by Italian Safari Park Maida, https://www.facebook.com/safariparkmaida/photos/a.100120315979786/142707348387749 (Accessed 06.09.2022)

    [2] Elefantenschutz Europa eV: Background: Incidents involving elephants, https://www.elefanten-schutz-europa.de/Wissen/Background-Unfaelle/ (Accessed 06.09.2022)

    [3] Expert report dated October 11, 2019, prepared in the Department of Veterinary Sciences, Head of Animal Welfare, Behavioral Studies, Animal Health and Animal Husbandry at LMU in Munich.

    [4] European Elephant Group (2011): A quantitative and qualitative survey of the condition of elephants in German circuses. Animal husbandry expert report at the request of the state animal welfare officer in the state of Hesse. Hessian Ministry of Environment, Energy, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (HMUELV).

Leave a Comment