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Perth Zoo hits back at elephant petition

AAP logoAAP 14/12/2016 Rebecca Gredley

Perth Zoo is disappointed an online petition questions their elephant care and training methods, saying staff are 100 per cent dedicated to the welfare of the animals.

The change.org petition calls for an end to elephant art, prompted by social media adverts offering Perth Zoo elephant paintings as a unique Christmas gift.

The petition says while they appreciate the zoo keepers care for their animals, they do not see how asking elephants to show unnatural behaviour, such as painting, is enriching for them.

Perth Zoo spokeswoman Danielle Henry told AAP the elephants were not forced into any activities, and the painting was an extension of the drawing and scribbling behaviours elephants conducted in the wild.

"They enjoy it, they thrive on it, they choose to do it," she said.

Ms Henry said all proceeds of the paintings go directly to conservation projects, including a wild elephant protection program in Sumatra.

She said it was disappointing the zoo's conservation and care practices were being questioned, as their elephant keepers were dedicated and spent more time with the creatures than with their friends and families.

"It's disappointing. We're one of the world's leading conservation zoos - anyone can see how much we love and care for them," she said.

"Our animal welfare charter is world-leading. There are animals out there that need help, not the ones at Perth Zoo."

Ms Henry said claims in the petition that bullhooks were used were untrue, as the zoo used elephant guides with no hooks, whistles and voice commands.

"Anyone can come in and see our elephants and see how we work with them. We have nothing to hide," she said.

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