Cyprus Mail

Baby elephants arrive at Paphos Zoo

One of the baby elephants (Christos Theodorides)

By Bejay Browne

TWO elephants which arrived in Cyprus amid controversy on Saturday are being kept in quarantine at Paphos zoo for the next month or so in accordance with veterinary services requirements, said the Zoo owner.

Christos Christoforou said the two elephants, four-year old Bono Rani and five-year old Shova Rani who were accompanied on their long journey by their keeper and a veterinarian, said that they were also placed in quarantine for a month before leaving Bangladesh.

“This is to ensure that everything goes smoothly and their ‘mahout’ is taking care of them along with our specially trained keeper.”

Christoforou explained that a mahout is an elephant keeper and often a family tradition in countries such as Bangladesh, where the pair are from. “The mahout has been taking care of the elephants which were born in captivity, for the last two years,” he said.

The Animal Party and the Green Party issued separate announcements asking the authorities to revoke any licences obtained for the arrival of the animals and questioned whether all measures were taken to ensure their living conditions were up to standards.

However state authorities stressed that Paphos Zoo has obtained all licences for the two young elephants and expressed their satisfaction with the enclosure.

Christoforou told the Cyprus Mail: “What the Animal Party did is not right. If they are animal lovers, as they say, they should get their facts right first. What about all of the stray dogs and cats, they should help them. They just want to advertise themselves. All they have done is show how ignorant they are and given out the wrong information to the public.”

He added: “I can assure you that we have all of the necessary licences and their enclosure – at 1,000m² – meets all requirements. It also has a pool so that the elephants can stay cool. They will be very well taken care of.”

Christoforou added that the party had highlighted the case of an elephant which died in Cyprus 20  years ago, due to old age and bad conditions. “You can’t compare what we are doing with that. The animal was not looked after or maintained properly. It didn’t even have the right food.”

The Animal Party had argued that elephants are heterothermic animals- they regulate their body temperature by storing heat during daytime and gradually losing it during the cool of the night- need the right conditions to do so without any stress. They said that Paphos is a very humid and the elephants might not be able to cool off properly.

“The elephants are from Bangladesh where it is far more humid than Paphos, the party is showing they are ignorant and giving incorrect information.”

Christoforou said the process of acquiring the elephants was a lengthy one and involved the zoo now being classed as an ‘Zoo Institute.”

“We have had to become an Institute to enable us to be allowed these elephants, this is EU legislation. Elephants are not allowed to go to zoos; we are an upgraded version. We take part in conservation and breeding programmes, we keep logs and detailed records of each animals. They each have their own card, we note if they are sick and so on.”

Christoforou said that private buyers are no longer able to buy and sell elephants and that a number of regulations and stipulations are in place for their protection. He said that this can now only occur between governments or zoo institutes.

“We have been trying to get these elephants two for three years and I do what I do for love. I would never allow the animals not to live well.”

According to Christoforou, the elephants were tested before they left Bangladesh and are disease free, otherwise they wouldn’t have been permitted to travel. Their journey took them by plane to Abu Dhabi and then on to Larnaca. They were then transported to Paphos in a lorry. He said that they both seemed to cope well with the journey; the vet had medication on standby but didn’t have to use it.

So far the two females, which grew up together, have settled in and are eating well, he said. Their diet includes fruit such as: water melon, melon, vegetables, banana leaves, bark and a type of hay- alfalfa. They are eating around 100 kilos each which will increase to around 200 kilos as they grow.

“The elephant’s mahout came with them and hopefully will stay with them in Cyprus for around six  years. It’s his job, he knows and understand the elephants so well. He will teach us so much”

The zoo owner is applying for another mahout, so that each elephant will have their own, as well as the facility’s specially trained keeper.

“They need taking care of all day. It’s very involved and a lot of work. They have to be fed certain foods in a certain way, their food is very important. They have to bath in their pool, also to be cleaned with water pressure, great care must be taken with their nails.”

Once out of quarantine, the elephants will be walked around the zoo when they are closed, either very early in the morning or late in the afternoon, for around 4 or 5 kilometres a day to ensure that they are exercised, he said.



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