SOROCABA – The transfer of an elephant that has lived in the city’s public zoo for 40 years to a sanctuary in the state of Mato Grosso causes controversy in Sorocaba, in the interior of São Paulo. The new destination for Sandro, the name by which the pachyderm is known, was determined by the Justice, which gave a period of ten days, starting this Friday, the 1st, for the city hall to inform about the technical and veterinary aspects involved in the trip. . Since losing his partner, Raísa, who died of natural causes in 2020, Sandro has lived alone in his enclosure at the zoo.
After the elephant’s death, the São Paulo Public Ministry (MPSP), through the Sorocaba prosecutor’s office, filed a lawsuit for the elderly elephant to spend the rest of his life in the company of his peers, at the Elephant Sanctuary of Brazil, located in Chapada dos Guimarães (MT). The site is home to five elephants rescued from circuses and zoos. Sandro is one of the main attractions of the Sorocaba zoo, which is classified in category A, among the most complete in the country, according to the Society of Zoos and Aquariums of Brazil (SZB).
On the 20th, a group of residents and environmentalists held a demonstration in front of the zoo, with banners and posters against Sandro’s transfer. Protesters recalled that the Black chimpanzee, another resident of the zoo, died in early 2021, two years after being transferred to a primate sanctuary. The day after the protest, the city government released a report produced by the zoo’s technical team, pointing out the risks involved in transferring the elephant, including the fact that Sandro had never lived in the wild.
According to the document, the elephant is close to 50 years old, being close to the limit of its existence. Before being transferred at a young age to the Sorocaba zoo, Sandro was the attraction of a circus. The technicians also pointed out the stress of the 1,500 km trip, between Sorocaba and the sanctuary, and the risk of him not adapting to the new lifestyle, since he would be used to the daily contact with his keepers. The report was added to Sandro’s lawsuit.
Faced with the position of city hall technicians against the change, the MP filed a request for urgent protection in Justice so that Sandro’s transfer is immediate. According to the prosecution, it is intuitive that zoos in general do not meet the needs of large wild animals in terms of space allocated to them.
Judge Alexandre Dartanhan de Mello Guerra, from the Public Treasury Court of Sorocaba, ordered the city hall to inform within ten days what measures were taken to ensure the transfer. The pachyderm transport plan has already been prepared by the Sorocaba Secretariat for the Environment, taking into account that the transfer logistics were offered by the sanctuary, at no cost to the municipality. The mayor waits to be notified to manifest.
The sanctuary informed that for a year it has been waiting for the release of the transfer of the elephant from Sorocaba to its facilities, which are already prepared to receive the new resident. The enclosure is in an area of 40 thousand square meters for male Asian elephants that will still be expanded. Currently, the sanctuary houses five Asian females. According to biologist Daniel Moura, one of the directors of the sanctuary, the transport will be supervised by specialists with decades of experience, who have already carried out more than 100 transfers of elephants, with different ages and health conditions.