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Comprehensive Expert Behavioural and Medical Assessments of Charlie, the Solitary Elephant at the Pretoria Zoo Delivered to Minister Barbara Creecy

The Members of the Pro Elephant Network (PREN) and the EMS Foundation have submitted Expert Assessment Reports of Charlie, the solitary Elephant at the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria, to the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy.

Charlie, an African male elephant, who was born in Hwange National Park in 1982, was captured and exported to the Brian Boswell Circus in South Africa in 1984.  He was sent to the National Zoological Gardens on the 30th of July 2001. 

The EMS Foundation and members of PREN have been in discussions with Minister Barbara Creecy since the 16th of December 2020, negotiating the very best retirement options for Charlie, based upon the recommendations of the most experienced Elephant experts in the world. 

Charlie’s expert psychological and medical rehabilitation, his relocation to and his reintegration into a protected natural environment would arrive at no cost to the South African Biodiversity Institute, the South African government, or the South African taxpayer. 

Charlie’s Behavioural Assessment Report was co-authored by Dr Marion Garai, Dr Keith Lindsay, Dr Toni Frohoff and Dr Joyce Poole. 

  • Dr Marion Garai is an Ethologist, a member of the IUCN SCC, chairperson of the South African Elephant Specialist Advisory Group and a trustee of the Elephant Reintegration Trust.   
  • Dr Keith Lindsay is a Conservation Biologist and Environmental Consultant with over 40 years of professional experience, he is the author of the Solitary Elephants in Japan Report and co-author with Dr Rob Atkinson of a Report endorsed by 25 leading specialists, which explains why expansive, diverse habitats are critical to keeping captive elephants physically and psychologically healthy.
  • Dr Toni Frohoff is an Ethologist and Behavioural Biologist with thirty years of experience.  Dr Frohoff is the Founder and the Science Director for TerraMar Research.
  • Dr Joyce Poole is an Elephant Behaviour Specialist, and the Co-Founder and Co-Director of ElephantVoices. Dr Poole has studied the social behaviour and communication of elephants for over forty years. Dr Poole has dedicated her life to the conservation of elephants and their welfare.  

Charlie’s Medical Assessment Report was co-authored by Professor Dr Thomas Hildebrandt, Dr Frank Goeritz Dr Amir Khalil and Dr Mariana Ivanova, and under the supervision of South African veterinarian Dr Brett Bard.

This specialized, expert medical team were responsible for the rehabilitation, relocation, and initial phases of integration of Kaavan, once called the loneliest Elephant in the world. This team have also recently treated the four African elephants in the Karachi Zoo and Safari Parks, successfully conducting lifesaving, unique and complicated surgeries from which all four elephants have recovered. Dr Brett Bard is a South African veterinarian, practising in the Karoo in the Western Cape.

The Members of PREN and the EMS Foundation are looking forward to receiving Minister Creecy’s earliest response and engaging on this matter further with her so that the recommendations made by the experts can be fulfilled in the best interests of Charlie. 

We would like to take this opportunity to warmly and gratefully thank all the experts who have so generously participated in these important assessment processes. 

Image Credit: EMS Foundation 2023.

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