While the zoo made no formal announcement that the shows have ended, Animals Asia has reportedly gained assurances that none have taken place since December 2018. Equally important, the organization confirms that the elephant performances will not be reintroduced.
As explained on the Animals Asia website, for years, four elephants had been forced to perform tricks, such as rearing up on their hind legs and standing on stools every weekend and on public holidays.
These activities cause great suffering to the animals, as they are forced to behave unnaturally and in a manner which can cause long-term harm to their bodies. Such activities can only be achieved through the threat of violence in the form of spiked sticks known as bull hooks
“We are absolutely delighted that Saigon Zoo has realized the elephant shows are cruel, outdated and utterly at odds with the principles of animal welfare,” Animals Asia, Animal Welfare Director Dave Neale said in a statement, further noting that the organization works collaboratively with zoos around Asia in a bid to improve standards of welfare. “Going forward we have offered free welfare advice to help the zoo provide the highest standards of care for the elephants and have even offered to provide qualified veterinarians to help care for one of the elephants who is showing signs of illness.”
Sadly, the zoo has not accepted Animals Asia’s offers of support as of yet, but they will remain available at any time because, as the organization stated, they will “never turn away from an animal in need.”
In China, Animals Asia’s opposition to animal circuses at zoos resulted in a government directive in 2011 banning animal performances. However, the latest Animals Asia investigation into animal performance in China’s zoos revealed that as of 2018, more than 30% of zoos and safari parks have failed to end land-animal performances in line with legislation.
Saigon Zoo currently owns six Asian elephants, four of whom were forced to perform. All six will continue to be on public display in the zoo’s usual enclosures.