Campaigners beg South African zoo lonely elephant losing mate 17 years

elephant 4.jpgLammie the African elephant has been ‘lonely’ since her mate of 17 years, Kinkel, died around six months ago, campaigners say

Campaigners are begging a South African zoo to move a ‘lonely’ elephant to a sanctuary after her mate died six months ago.

Lammie, the last African elephant at Johannesburg Zoo, and her mate Kinkel had been together for 17 years after he was rescued in the wild when his trunk got caught in a snare in 2000.

Since he died last September, animal protection groups want to see Lammie moved to a bigger sanctuary so she does not have to spend her final years alone.

The 39-year-old elephant also suffered the loss of her week-old calf, the death of her parents, the relocation of one of her brothers to a French zoo and the other being moved to a captive facility in Johannesburg.

Lammie refused to eat around the time of her partner’s death, according to the zoo, and the day before Kinkel died, she was seen trying to help him get up.elephant 3.jpgAnimal protection groups want to see Lammie moved to a bigger sanctuary where she can be with other elephants 

Elephants develop strong social group bonds and losing family and peers can result in significant grief and trauma, animal protection groups say.

Lammie now spends her days alone in her enclosure without the company of another elephant or any distractions, say campaigners.

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They say she has little enrichment, not much shade, insufficient water to bathe, appears to listlessly stand at the gate of her elephant house for hours on end and is overweight.

Elephant experts at Humane Society International/Africa, the EMS Foundation and the Elephant Reintegration Trust are concerned for her mental well-being and are urging Johannesburg zoo in South Africa.

A rewilding sanctuary willing to offer Lammie a new home with other elephants who would become her new family has been found.

But so far the zoo has resisted requests to release Lammie to the sanctuary and has instead suggested it may bring in another elephant to keep her company. elephant1.jpgElephant experts say Lammie has become overweight since her mate of 17 years died and she has been seen standing listlessly at the gate of her enclosure

The campaigners will hand a petition of nearly 300,000 signatures to the zoo, urging bosses to transfer Lammie to the sanctuary.

A letter of support from 13 of the world’s most renowned elephant conservationists has also been submitted.

Harry Potter actress, Evanna Lynch, has added her voice to the campaign along with school children who are backing the mercy mission by sending Valentine’s card to the zoo.