Joyce Poole and Petter Granli of ElephantVoices' visited Barcelona from 9-11 June to assess the situation for elephants, Susi and Yoyo, in Barcelona Zoo. The visit was based on an initative by the organisations Libera and Faada, and with the input and inspiration of several others who are interested in the plight of these two elephants.

We had two constructive meetings with Barcelona Zoo Director, Miquel Trepat, and two of his colleagues, and in an open letter (171.79 kB) we have given the zoo our feedback. It is our opinion that Susi and Yoyo's interests cannot be met in an urban zoo and we argue that, ideally, they should be moved to an elephant sanctuary. Currently, there is no such place in Europe, yet Spain has an ideal climate for such a sanctuary and we are engaged in discussion with people who hope to make this a reality. In the mean time the elephants suffer, as most zoo elephants do, but it is fair to add that the Barcelona Zoo continues to work to improve their conditions.

Our letter goes into many of the issues relevant to elephants in zoos, while also pinpointing some of the special challenges related to Susi and Yoyo and the plans of Barcelona Zoo.

The educational value of "exhibiting" elephants who, due to their captive situation, do not behave remotely like elephants, is from our perspective, extremely limited. We would argue that giving children the impression that it is OK to keep animals in conditions far from what they need may, instead, create attitudes that may stimulate abuse rather than the opposite. While the Barcelona Zoo states that they are known for their education program, the information sign by the elephant enclosure speaks for itself.

Our visit and views were covered by the media as a result of a press conference and other interviews arranged by Libera! and FAADA during our stay. You will find some media links below, others will be included when the articles are published. At the bottom of the page you will find ElephantVoices video clips with Susi and Yoyo.

TVE a la CARTA (17.12 into the program)

L'elefanta Yoyo compleix un any separada de Susi al Zoo de Barcelona
(English version of above article, translated via Google translate)

La Yoyo i la Susi continuen separades
(English version of above article, translated via Google translate)

News coverage on 10 June.

Susi has been in the Barcelona Zoo since 2002, while her current neighbour, Yoyo, arrived 6th June 2009.
We do not believe that an urban zoo is able to provide
what Susi and Yoyo need to be able to thrive. (©ElephantVoices)

From left to right: Jenny Berengueras (FAADA), Petter Granli (ElephantVoices), Vera Weber (Fondation Franz Weber), Joyce Poole (ElephantVoices), Laura Riera (FAADA), Alejandra García (Libera!) and Daniel Turner (Born Free) visiting Barcelona Zoo in June 2010.
Susi to the right. (©ElephantVoices)

Yoyo. (©ElephantVoices)


Information sign by
Barcelona Zoo elephant enclosure.