Read their stories

Jimmy the bear

Jimmy and Jexi, brother and sister, were kept for 11 years in a small concrete cage at the back of a bread factory in Arcusi (Covasna County). The owner of the factory claimed that he rescued the two small cubs from the dangerous attack of some dogs and that he took care of them and fed them. This man never considered freeing them back into the forest, but decided to keep them as pets. As they grew up the cage they lived in became smaller and smaller. Fortunately, in October 2012 World Animal Protection and partner organisation AMP were able to rescue the two bears and bring them to Libearty sanctuary in Zarnesti, Romania.

WAP has been working with their partner in Romania, Asociatia Milioane de Prieteni (AMP) since 2005, creating the world’s largest bear sanctuary near Zarnesti. The sanctuary is set in lush forest, with pools for the bears to bathe in and plenty of space for them to roam around. Unfortunately, the bears they rescue would be unable to survive in the wild due to their history but the sanctuary provides them with an environment that is as close to their natural habitat as possible.

Tayla the tiger

Tayla is a symbol for all the tigers and lions held in captivity for the entertainment sector. In Thailand alone, some 1,500 tigers are held in captivity for entertainment of tourists. That's half of all the wild tigers in the world. Young cubs are taken away from their mother after only 2 weeks after birth and put in cages or chains. Tourists then can take a selfie with these tigers, or pet and cuddle them. That may seem like fun, but what many people don't know is that these animals are being mistreated, beaten, starved or locked up to ensure that they obey. Hundreds of times a day they are touched by tourists, which causes enormous stress for these animals. They live in small concrete cages, sometimes even with hardly any water or food.

But not only in the tourism industry tigers and other big cats are exploited. Especially in Africa and Asia there is a high demand for 'traditional medicine', made from big cats. Tigers and lions are locked up all their lives to end up as a pill or drink. However, there is no evidence for the effectiveness of these medicine. Yet hundreds of lions and tigers are kept in small, bare cages and in some cases are given only the minimal care to stay alive. With depressed and stressed animals as a result.

While a ban on captive breeding from Thai authorities would be a significant step towards ending the suffering of tigers, we can all do our part for tigers. Remember, if a tiger is performing tricks or is allowing you to take a selfie with them at an attraction, they have suffered abuse. Be a responsible tourist and walk away. Tigers are wildlife – not entertainers or medicine. Let’s end the cycle of suffering and make this the last generation of tigers bred into a lifetime of abuse.

Mayura the elephant

Mayura is the youngest and most energetic elephant in the ChangChill herd, is often heard trumpeting and roaring with her mother, Mae Gohgae. Born in 1989, close to the Thai-Myanmar border, Mayura worked as a logging elephant in both Thailand and Myanmar for many years.

While she was sometimes sent to work in different regions than her mother, the two were
often able to reunite in their owners’ home town during breaks between logging jobs. Recently, she worked as a taxi elephant in Chiang Mai, carrying tourists on her back alongside her mother, at a camp that gave them very little free time to spend together. Elephants are wild animals that belong in the wild. If a venue allows you to get close enough to ride, bath or touch them, it’s because they’ve been cruelly trained.

In 2017 things started to get better for Mayura and her mother. World Animal Protection
helped transform their camp Happy Elephant Valley into animal-friendly ChangChill (meaning ‘relaxed elephant’ in Thai). No more chains, no more carrying tourists, no more direct interaction with visitors.

ChangChill reopened its doors to the public in 2019 and provides Mayura with the opportunity to really be an elephant again. The transition allows the six resident female elephants the freedom to roam the valley, graze, and bathe in the river, mud and dust, while socialising with each other. It’s the best life they can have, considering they cannot go back to a life in the wild anymore.