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Swaziland elelephants exported in contempt of US court injunction

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The elephants were flown out in defiance of a US court order temporarily freezing the import pending the submission of veterinary statements on the elephants’ physical condition and the outcome of a court case to halt the import.

Yesterday morning eighteen Swazi elephants were secretly flown out of Swaziland, destined for three US zoos.

The elephants were flown out in defiance of a US court order temporarily freezing the import pending the submission of veterinary statements on the elephants’ physical condition and the outcome of a court case to halt the import.

It appears the zoos decided to take no chances that the court might find that the import permits issued by US  Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) were incorrectly issued and accordingly , dispatched a cargo plane to Swaziland to collect their elephants on the evening of March 8th without prior warning to the court or media.

A US judge then decided last night that the export could go ahead as the elephants were already sedated in crates en-route to the airport, and that resedating them would be detrimental to their health.

USFWS had granted import permits earlier this year despite strong opposition from elephant experts and conservationists worldwide, who highlighted the significant trauma and welfare deficiencies elephants endure in captivity.

Friends of Animals filed a lawsuit against the USFWS for authorising the permits, claiming that the agency had not complied with the National Environmental Policy Act by withholding information on the unavoidable negative impacts caused when moving wild elephants to captivity.

“Our scientific understanding of the impacts that confinement has on elephants has grown tremendously. We know today that they nearly always endure severe physical and physiological hardship (in captivity), especially when they have spent their entire lives in the wild,” says Friends of Animals lawyer, Mike Harris.

Original article: http://www.sabreakingnews.co.za/2016/03/10/swaziland-elelephants-exported-in-contempt-of-us-court-injunction/

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