A former circus elephant who fatally crushed its keeper yesterday lived most of its life in a small trailer and had "psychological damage,'' says an animal rights group.
The group that campaigned for 20 years to have Mila, formerly called Jumbo, released from the circus succeeded three years ago.
Director of Save Animals from Exploitation (SAFE) Hans Kriek worked closely with Mila, and said he had also worked with Helen Schofield, who died yesterday, to find a better home for the elephant.
Mila was mistreated for nearly 30 years by Tony Ratcliffe and his circus until she was so unhealthy that she went crazy.
Jumbo, now Mila, had been owned by New Zealand circus owner Tony Ratcliffe but had been sold to Loritz circus which had plans to build an enclosure for her.
Loritz circus relinquished responsibility for Mila and signed her over to the SPCA, after which she was transferred to Franklin Zoo as a temporary home.
Mr Ratcliffe told Radio New Zealand today he was the only person who knew how to handle Mila, and Franklin zoo had been ignorant of the elephant's capabilities.
"I am the last line of true elephant handlers - I doubt if Auckland zoo will be able to handle this situation. Their elephant handlers are not equipped to handle an elephant like this,'' he said.
Now Tony Ratcliffe has the nerve to go to the media and claim that it was the elephant's most recent trainer's ignorance that caused this horrible tragedy.
Never mind the 30 years that he spent abusing the elephant.
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