By EMMA REYNOLDS
Ouch: The zookeeper pulls on the baby elephant's trunk as she resists climbing on to the weighing scales
Zookeepers in Germany appear to have come up with a novel way of getting reluctant baby elephants to behave.
These pictures, which some may find disturbing, show a young man dragging a resistant calf by the trunk to get it on to the weighing scales for a check-up at Wuppertal Zoo in Germany.
Uli is one of around 5,000 animals of 500 different species living at the park, who all have to be counted, weighed and measured each year to see if they are developing as they should.
Distress: The calf looks frightened as she rears away from the weighing scales during the annual check-up
Weighty problem: Uli's face is pressed into the ground as the man continues to pull her towards the scales
But whether this sort of treatment is likely to help is a matter for debate.
Dressed in khaki trousers and a green sweatshirt, the zookeeper grabs the little elephant by the end of its trunk and pulls.
The man even climbs on to the scales to get some grip on the animal, who appears distressed, her ears flapping wildly as she braces herself against the metal edge of the scales to avoid getting on.
As another zookeeper and a fully grown elephant watch, Uli's head drops to the floor and her face is pressed into the ground.
But no one intervenes, and the Wuppertal worker does not let go of the elephant's trunk for a second.
He finally successfully tugs her on to the scales, where he gives the downcast-looking creature a gentle pat.
Downcast: Another zookeeper and two elephants gaze at a miserable-looking Uli as she finally stands still on the scales
Ears flat against her head, the subdued animal trails her trunk against the blue metal, and weighs in at 480kg (1058 pounds).
The seemingly unhappy elephant is only small for her species, where an adult can weigh six to eight tonnes (12,000 to 14,000 pounds).
The photos have caused some concern over whether this is appropriate treatment to inflict on a young animal.
Uli's home, Wuppertal Zoo, opened in September 1881 and has steadily expanded ever since.
It has enclosures and zoo buildings for elephants and apes, a house for birds with a more spacious hall in which they can fly freely, and a small combined aquarium/terrarium.
A spokeswoman from Peta (People for the Ethical treatment of Animals) said: 'Handling a baby elephant by the trunk - an extremely sensitive organ - is cruel as it partially asphyxiates them.
Sympathy: The zookeeper gives Uli a reassuring pat - but it appears to come too late
'As a veterinarian with over 40 years of experience working with elephants and other captive exotic animals recently explained, “Trainers do this to enforce their dominion… by controlling the very air or life force of the baby.”
'The handler is also carrying a metal implement known as a "bullhook", the only purpose of which is to inflict pain and punishment by striking, hooking, and jabbing elephants in the most sensitive parts of their bodies.
'Their use is abusive both psychologically and physically. Methods of protected contact, based on positive reinforcement, makes this type of cruel and frightening handling completely unnecessary.'
An RSPCA spokesman added: 'There are extreme welfare problems involved with keeping elephants in zoos and are calling for an outright ban on importing more elephants into zoos in England and Wales.
Friday, December 30, 2011
This keeper should remember that elephants never forget: Calf is hauled by his trunk to get on the weighing scales
By EMMA REYNOLDS