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.
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
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
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.