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Freedom at Last: Pretoria Zoo’s Only Male Elephant Set to Retire to a Natural Sanctuary



Charlie, the only male elephant at the Pretoria National Zoological Garden, may finally retire to a wildlife sanctuary or similar setting. The EMS Foundation and the Pro Elephant Network have been working with Minister of Forestry and Fisheries and Environmental Affairs Barbara Creecy since December 16, 2020, to secure a more natural life for him as reported by IOL.

Charlie has spent his life in captivity, first in a circus and then as a zoo elephant.

He has witnessed the deaths of four female elephants, who shared his enclosure at the Pretoria Zoo, Pumbi, Thandi, Landa, and his calf, Dineo.

After assessing Charlie’s mental and physical well-being, eight world-renowned elephant experts appointed by the Pro Elephant Network and the EMS Foundation recommended his retirement to a secure natural environment with expert rehabilitation to help him reintegrate into a wilder space at his own pace.

The South African National Biodiversity Institute has agreed to retire Charlie, and the public has expressed support through a petition with over 41,000 signatures.


Charlie, born in 1982 in Hwange National Park and captured for the circus in 1984, will be 43 years old this year and has spent most of his life in captivity.

Photo by Nam Anh on Unsplash

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