Chandigarh, February 6
Nikita Dhawan, a 16-year-old youth activist and founder of animal welfare group Youth For Animals, along with its co-founder Nandika Karunakaram, has started a petition on Change.org to free an elephant living in the Delhi zoo.
The elephant named Shankar, according to the petition, has been living in isolation for years and is distressed. He is chained for 17 hours of the day and doesn’t have enough space to move around when he is let out. The petition demands that Shankar be removed from the zoo and rehabilitated in a wildlife sanctuary that houses other African elephants.
Shankar wasn’t always alone. Until 2005, he had a companion.
It was in 1998, two young elephants were captured from the wilderness in southern Africa and sent to India as a diplomatic gift from Zimbabwe to then Indian president Shankar Dayal. They were named Shankar and Bombai, who began living at the National Zoological Park in Delhi.
Bombai died in 2005 and according to the petition Shankar has lived alone in captivity at the zoo since then.
Last year in August, Nikita saw 26-year-old Shankar at the zoo, who had chains around his legs and was living alone in a dismal enclosure.
“Shankar is chained for 17 hours of the day and does not have adequate space to move around when he is let out. Much like humans, elephants are social beings and suffer neurological distress when put in solitary confinement. Shankar constantly demonstrates stereotypical behaviour like swaying and head-bobbing, a key sign of distress. In fact, Shankar's aggressive behaviour has necessitated the zoo authorities to permanently close the viewing pathway since he could be a danger to visitors,” reads the petition.
So far 1,34,657 people have signed the petition.
Nikita also has the support of tweeple who have made the story of Shankar viral on the Internet. Here are some of the many tweets:
Please help us free Shankar, the beautiful African #elephant, who is chained 17 hours a day and has been living in isolation for years at the Delhi Zoo. 🐘— Leo's Animal Planet (@LeosAnimalPlan1) January 31, 2022
Sign the petition:🖊️https://t.co/9JsLMWaYqn #CaptivityKills #wildlife #freeshankar @youthforanimals #FreeShankarDelhiZoo pic.twitter.com/TulvNdIGxQ
@DelhiZoo Why do you hold Shankar in solitary confinement? He belongs with other animals in a sanctuary where he can be an elephant not a prisoner. If you care about your animals and have compassion release him to a better life now,— Fay van Dunk (@FayvanDunk) February 1, 2022
#ArtforShankar 🎨🎶📝💃#FreeShankarDelhiZoo ⛓🐘⛓— 𝐘𝗼𝐮𝐭𝐡 𝐟𝗼𝐫 𝐀𝐧𝐢𝗺𝐚𝐥𝐬 (𝐘𝐅𝐀) 🐘🧡 (@youthforanimals) November 16, 2021
A drawing by Aaradhya Sunder, age 8 from The German School, New Delhi. Hope Shankar sees the happy times depicted here 😊#art #elephants #ArtistOnTwitter #india #Freeshankar #delhi #elephant #IncredibleIndia pic.twitter.com/P8JSuHfMWu
#FreeShankarDelhiZoo Help free Shankar (24 year old male African elephant) from his solitary confinement at the Delhi Zoo. Follow the Campaign Page for updates bit.ly/FreeShankar - Sign the Petition! https://t.co/fATXkZlM8h via @ChangeOrg_India— Nawed Khan / Browncoat (@NawedKhan_) January 31, 2022
24 years ago, a young elephant named Shankar was plucked from the wilds of Africa, loaded onto a plane to India, and placed in Delhi zoo. Now, a plea in the city's high court seeks to send him back home. AS IT SHOULD! https://t.co/PX9G9EdStT— SandyJK (@sandyjk) January 31, 2022
You can read more about the petition here:
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