A picket is taking place on Thursday afternoon at the Johannesburg Zoo with protesters calling for the release of Lammie the elephant.
Concerned environmental activists said Lammie should be released into a wildlife sanctuary, as she is now alone following the death of her mate Kinkel earlier this year.
Lammie has lived her entire life in captivity so far.
Even South Africa’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, better known for fighting for Palestinian freedom got involved.
Kinkel, a 35-year-old male elephant, died unexpectedly at the beginning of September after a short illness, Rosebank Killarney Gazette reported at the time.
MMC for community development Nonhlanhla Sifumba said: “Staff worked late on Monday night and Kinkel was supervised throughout the night by his keeper, Alice [Masombuko], but yesterday morning sadly lost his battle.”
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His companion Lammie, who recently turned 39, restlessly nudged Kinkel in the hope that he would show signs of recovery.
Masombuko said that Lammie’s grief was tangible as she paced up and down their once shared enclosure following Kinkel’s death.
Distraught at the unexpected loss of one of her favourite animals, Masombuko cried as she kissed her friend goodbye: “It is with a heavy heart that we bid farewell to one of our friends. All the elephant keepers have lost a good friend and brother.”
Sifumba said that staff who looked after Kinkel will receive counselling as they were all very emotional about the sudden loss.