Pets and Animals

Denmark’s comical retirement of circus elephants

Oct 2 2020 By Asbin Ghimire
Circus elephant retirement
Circus elephant retirement
Source: Flickr

Denmark is one of the countries that is taking a stand for animals. While many other countries are also prohibiting the use of wild animals in circuses, the Danes are making a tremendous effort to ensure their well-being. Not just with commitments, the Danish government has raised substantial fund to conserve wild animals and near-extinction wildlife.

Last year, the Danish government helped rescue four elephants from circuses in the country, paying for their retirement. Importantly, the elephants were the last elephants working in Danish circuses. After the government purchased them, the elephants did not have to perform tricks for the public anymore. Additionally, that move remarkably set an example for other countries too. The incident clearly depicted Denmark’s eagerness to protect and ensure the natural life of wild creatures.

Danish PM’s comical briefing to Parliament

Denmark’s Prime Minister last year explained to the Danish Parliament that they had faced an obstacle to buying circus elephants. A camel stood as an obstacle to the government’s plan to free elephants by buying them. Apparently, one of the elephants had a camel best-friend named Ali. And the government could not proceed to only procure the elephants by separating the best friends. In the end, the government had to buy the camel too, for the well being and shared joy of the best friends.

Interestingly, PM Mette Frederiksen could not control her chuckle while explaining the matter to Parliament. As she began to explain, she started giggling which became contagious on the floor. Soon, every MP on the floor started laughing. The Danish Parliament, Folketinget, burst into squeals of hysteric laughter for some time. Meanwhile, the PM struggled to finish explaining the matter.

It rarely happens that a country’s legislature laughs together. The PM also informed that they did not get a good deal because they were misled to buying the camel. The elephant and camel weren’t really friends. And, the government had already paid, not a good deal.

Danish government paid $1.6m for elephants retirement

The Danish government purchased four elephants from Danish circuses to give them a retirement in September 2019. In particular, the Government of Denmark spent 11 million kroner ($1.6 million) to purchase elephants. Furthermore, the names of the rescued elephants are Ramboline, Lara, Djunga, and Jenny.

Denmark elephant retirement
The government of Denmark was on highlight for recusing the last four elephants from the circus. Source: Flickr

After the acquisition of the elephants, the Cirkus Arena manager Benny Berdino said, “Sad to have to say goodbye.” On contrary, he also expressed happiness about the fact that the elephants would get good retirement. Out of four elephants, Cirkus Arena employed three of them while the Cirkus Trapez had the fourth.

On the other hand, the move marked the government’s first step in prohibiting wild animals’ use from circuses. Meanwhile, Danish Food and Fisheries Minister Mogens Jensen further ensured a total ban on the use of all kinds of wild animals in circuses in future.

Other countries follow suit

Before Denmark, England implemented a law to protect wild animals in 2019. Particularly, the law banned travelling circuses from using wild animals. Some of the other nations that have similar bans in place by now are Austria, Costa Rica, Mexico, Scotland, and Peru. This week French Minister for the Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili also committed to that end in the long run.

Denmark elephant retirement
Germany was the first one to use hologram in the circus instead of real animals.
Source: Pixabay

Likewise, the German government also set an example in 2018, supporting the cause. Germany is the first nation in the world to use holograms instead of real animals in circuses.

Similarly, following the trend, a new wildlife law got introduced at a Geneva wildlife conference in 2019. The law ensured that African infant elephants could not be taken from the wild for sale in zoos and circuses. Especially, the conference had participants from 169 countries as well as the European Union. Besides, the conference’s main agenda was to find ways to support governments in the developing world with wildlife management and rules enforcement.

Also read: What if there was no government in the world

Denmark’s criteria to acquire an elephant

Initially, the government official couldn’t decide on where to put Rambolina, Lara, Djunga, and Jenny after acquiring them. As a result, they advised that someone who had the right space could come forward with enquires.

On the other hand, the officials had no plans to entertain individual bids to acquiring an elephant. Also, the applicants ready to take care of mammals would have to assure timely acquisition and adequate welfare.

Meanwhile, Animal Protection Denmark was tasked to look after the elephants until they found their new homes for retirement.

Elephants settle in their new home in May 2020

Despite the Danish government’s initial dilemma, the rescued elephants finally found a new home in May 2020. Particularly, the elephants were freed in the Knuthenborg Safari Park, marking the end of an era.

The four elephants are now enjoying their retirement in the 140,000 m2 park where they will live a natural life. Besides, the facility has specifically set a precedent of how the potential project for retiring circus elephants around the world can be built.

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