Liberation Photography - Animal Rights Photos by Noah Hannibal

Suffering at the Zoo

Tears of an Elephant - Animal Abuse at the Melbourne Zoo

These photos were taken after a tip off that elephants were being abused at the Melbourne Zoo. During the four hours I was there the bull elephant Bong Su was kept secluded from the other elephants and stood at a gate staring at the enclosure where the other elephants were kept. He appeared to be miserable, had tears running down his face, and was continually swaying back and forth.

In one of the other enclosed areas trainers were using bullhooks to control two elephants. Bullhooks are sharpened hooks which are used to control elephants by applying varying degrees of pressure to sensitive spots on their body, causing the elephant to move away from the source of discomfort when the hook is pulled and yanked deeper into their flesh. Holding the hooked end, the handle is swung like a baseball bat and induces substantial pain when the elephant is struck on the wrist, ankle, and other areas where there is little tissue between skin and bone. Kulab, one of the recently imported young elephants appeared highly distressed by this treatment. One of the older elephants, Mek Kapah, is pictured hugging Kulab with her trunk, seemingly to comfort her.

Shortly after these photos were taken an internal zoo memo was leaked to the media. The memo contained numerous incidents of animal maltreatment at the zoo, including a description of how a senior elephant trainer (Pat Flora) repeatedly stabbed one of the elephants: "After a time trying to control the elephant, Pat appeared to become extremely angry and used his marlin spike to stab at the elephant's leg repeatedly in excess of a dozen times. The elephants seemed obviously distressed, standing back to back, vocalising and defecating."(source: "Zoo rocked by abuse allegations").

Zoo Animal Cruelty at Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam

These photos were taken at a squalid roadside zoo housing primates, moon bears, and snakes at the the Cu Chi tunnels outside Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. None of the animals had food or water, and trash and faeces littered every cage.

All the animals there have lived in very small cages—some completely alone and with no enrichment—for three to four years. Though the government is responsible for their care, they are in the charge of a local restaurant—an establishment with no credentials or resources to properly care for wild animals.

The animals get water only once a day—in the early morning. They suffer through the rest of each day under the hot Vietnamese sun with no water. On the hot summer day we were there the animals were dying of thirst. We gave the animals bottled water purchased from a nearby concession stand. One thirsty stumptailed macaque quickly gulped down four large bottles. The restaurant worker who was in charge of caring for the animals said that the animals are not given water because they might make a mess with it and because giving them too much water might make them fat.

One stumptailed macaque has lived alone in a cage measuring 7 feet by 5 feet by 6 feet tall for four years. Crowded into his cage was a crude "cave" that was clearly not appropriate for an animal the size of a stumptailed macaque. His cage was littered with faeces.

All around these cages where animals suffered in the heat in their intense confinement, people were enjoying themselves-oblivious to their suffering. The animals at Cu Chi tunnel were in immediate need of water, clean cages, and proper veterinary care.

These photos of the appalling conditions at the entrance to the Cu Chi Tunnels were used as part of an international campaign to shut down the zoo. The Vietnamese government began receiving a flood of angry messages and the exhibit was shut down!

An investigator returned to Vietnam after reports were received that some of the animals were gone. As it turned out, all the animals were gone. Flowers have been planted in what used to be the base of the primates’ cage, a sight that brought tears to the eyes of the investigator.

It was learnt that the Vietnamese Forest Protection Department had seized the animals in response to complaints from "foreigners". According to a representative of Education for Nature-Vietnam, who spoke to the authorities, “The rangers implanted microchips into the animals and then released all confiscated animals into a semi-wild habitat in the historical forest of the Cu Chi Tunnels.”

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