Kiwis debate Sri Lanka's controversial baby jumbo gift
Feb 25, 2016 15:56 PM GMT+0530 | 3 Comment(s)
ECONOMYNEXT - New Zealanders have begun debating whether their country should the accept a baby elephant gifted by Sri Lanka in a move that could see the five-year-old separated from its parents for ever.
Wednesday's gift announced by President Maithripala Sirisena during the visit of Prime Minister John Key sparked outrage among Sri Lankan animal rights activists who accuse the government of ignoring the welfare of the animal over petty diplomatic brownie points.
A main newspaper in New Zealand, the Herald had begun a poll over the issue with a simple question: Should New Zealand accept the baby elephant?
As of Thursday afternoon, some 46 percent said yes while an equal number said no and eight percent were undecided on accepting the controversial gift.
But the readers of the newspaper sent in comments strongly criticising the move to separate a baby elephant from its parents.
The female baby elephant named Nandi was born in captivity at the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, but is not an orphan. It is still with its parents and siblings at the Pinnawela coconut groove.
"How revolting to separate a baby of such an intelligent, sensitive species from its mother and family. Have these people got no feelings?," wrote Casey of New Zealand.
Another sarcastically suggested it was better to leave Prime Minister John Key in Sri Lanka and bring only the baby elephant.
"What next? Accepting an endangered animal as if it's some sort of trinket is disgusting. All forms of elephant trade must be stopped and this includes that done in the guise of diplomacy," said another.
The debate in New Zealand comes at a time when Sri Lanka is also on a campaign to trace dozens of baby elephants illegally captured from jungles and brought up in homes of prominent people, including Buddhist monks.
The attorney general has also recommended the arrest of a Buddhist monk for illegally keeping a baby elephant at his temple in Colombo.
The monk says someone had left the elephant behind at the temple without the knowledge of anyone.