The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) has just announced that the organisation is pursuing options for the retirement of Charley the Elephant from the Pretoria National Zoological Garden into a suitable wildlife sanctuary or similar setting.

This decision follows a number of considerations, among others, the elephant’s advanced age, said SANBI in a statement on Friday. “The retirement may include giving Charley the opportunity to have a partner following the death of his late partner Landa, in 2019,” said SANBI. Charley has been at the National Zoological Gardens for over 22 years after being exposed to a circus environment for about 20 years.

Charley is 42 years old and has lived most of his life as a caged animal. This would be the first time in his life that he would feel freedom.

In the past two years, there have been growing calls to relocate the elephant, with many organisations raising their concerns publicly.

The Chairperson of SANBI Board, Professor Edward Nesamvuni, thanked the Pretoria Zoo staff, the public, civil society stakeholders and partners for their support in ensuring the best possible life for Charlie at the zoo. The date for retirement will be announced once all processes are finalised.SANBI is working on a suitable retirement sanctuary and is asking for cooperation and support from stakeholders and partners to ensure the continued welfare of the elephant.

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