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Kids urge care for orphaned elephant

Kids urge care for orphaned elephant

STUDENTS in Phnom Penh are rallying round an orphaned and homeless baby

elephant, demanding that the animal be allowed to stay in government-owned Phnom

Tamao Zoo rather than moved to a privately-owned enterprise.

The

students, members of "Kaapia" ("Protection"), a youth club formed to protect

wildlife, presented 26 letters of support for the elephant to Agriculture

Minister Chhea Song Dec 23.

"If you let her stay at Phnom Tamao, Kaapia

will raise money to build an adequate enclosure for Lucky, so she doesn't have

to be tied up," wrote Jonathan Mueller of Northbridge International School in

one of the letters.

Chhea Song assured the students that the elephant

would be allowed to stay in the government-run zoo.

"I strongly promise

you that Lucky will stay in Phnom Tamao zoo, and you can help us take care of

her," he said. The elephant was confiscated from traders by the Wildlife

Protection office earlier this year in Koh Kong.

The story came to light

when MP Nhim Vanda attempted to obtain the animal for his own private zoo in

Prey Veng.

Vanda said that he would abide by whatever decision Chhea Song

made. However, he added, his zoo also had a very high standard of care, and he

noted that his tigers had bred "a few times already while in

captivity."

When questioned in the National Assembly Dec 21 about the

standards of his zoo, Vanda was visibly ruffled.

"If my zoo is against

government policy, they can come to confiscate the animals, and I will release

my tigers to bite them," he shouted.

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