Augsburg Zoo: Dead girlfriend: Germany’s oldest elephant now alone – Panorama

Elephant researcher Angela Stöger-Horwath from the University of Vienna explains the background: “Elephants live in family groups led by the mother cow. The most experienced cow leads the herd.” Later, the girl often follows in his footsteps.

Targa alone now, next to the other elephants

In nature, the hierarchy is clear. However, if different elephants are gathered in the zoo, a leader must first assert himself. Now Targa lives next door, not with the other two elephants.

Passing Louise, she pushes her trunk through the fence. He looks affectionate when their trunks touch. But that’s misleading, says Linder: “If Targa had come near, Louise would have hit her.”

Louise and Frosja are kept in supposedly protected contact. There is always a fence between humans and animals. Targa is used to other things, even lets you pet her. However, this has a brutal background. Targa was still tame the “old school”. The guardian behaves like the leader of the herd and, when in doubt, uses force to assert himself.

Born in India in 1955

In addition, the animals are temporarily chained. When Targa was born in India in 1955, it was still common to separate baby elephants from their families in the wild for zoos. It is not known exactly how it fell into human hands. At the age of six, Targa landed in Germany – first in Hamburg, then in Osnabrück.

She has been in Augsburg since 1987. Abuse is now a thing of the past for Targa. Elephants have not been chained up in Augsburg since 2004. Nurse Marcus Linder does not believe his past is still present in his mind: “An elephant does not have an active memory like humans have. Targa does not remember the past than when confronted with an object or noise from that time.” However, Stöger-Horwath regards this depiction as speculation. The scientist points out that we don’t know exactly how an elephant’s brain works.

Keeping animals in zoos has long been controversial

Either way, whether elephants even belong in zoos has long been a matter of debate. Of the German Association for the Protection of Animals sees this “very critically” and doubts that giant mammals can be kept in a species-appropriate manner. the Animal Welfare Organization Peta generally rejects the keeping of wild animals in zoos and speaks of “animal prisons”.

Opponents of keeping a zoo refer to life expectancy. According older study is this for elephants in zoos under 20 years old. Critics of this study, on the other hand, note that the researchers ignored the improvement in housing conditions. The exact location of life expectancy is ultimately a matter of debate.

But one thing is clear: at 50, an elephant is very old. According to Linder, the fact that Targa was able to age a lot is due to her genes, her sanity and her careful maintenance. But now the old lady suffers from osteoarthritis and has abscesses on her legs. “If Targa can no longer walk because of the pain, he must be put to sleep”, explains his guardian. But if and when that will happen is hard to say.

Rosemary Rowse

"Unable to type with boxing gloves on. Web maven. Infuriatingly humble creator. Typical tv specialist. Music aficionado. Proud explorer."

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