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Wednesday, 11 August 2004
Page: 26256

Senator Bartlett asked the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, upon notice, on 9 July 2004:

(1) Is the Minister aware of plans by Taronga, Melbourne and Auckland zoos to import up to nine endangered Thai elephants for display and captive breeding.

(2) Do both Taronga and Melbourne zoos already have Asian elephants for exhibit.

(3) Are there any examples in Australia of the successful breeding of captive Asian elephants.

(4) Given that the elephant exhibit at Detroit Zoo closed because staff considered that no zoo can adequately cater for elephants, what assurances can the Minister provide that Taronga and Melbourne zoos have in the past, and will in the future, be able to provide for the behavioural and biological needs of elephants.

Senator Ian Campbell (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) Yes.

(2) Yes.

(3) No.

(4) The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) requires the proposed recipient zoos to demonstrate that they are able to meet the behavioural and biological needs of the elephants, that imported animals have been appropriately and legally sourced and that, if imported, they be part of an approved Co-operative Conservation Program. The Department is currently undertaking a careful and comprehensive assessment of the applications to import elephants to ensure that all Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and EPBC Act requirements are met.