Kate the Elephant

A victim of the zoo industry

Imagine it's 1969. Perhaps you were born in 1969. Perhaps your grandparents or parents were. It was the year the orphaned elephant Kate was born in the wild, shortly before she was taken to the UK for a lifetime in the zoo.

Kate came from India as an orphan at just two years old. It is unclear what happened to her parents but no doubt she would have suffered trauma from the separation from them and her herd, a baby with only her friend Crumple by her side. A zookeeper from Blackpool Zoo was sent to India to buy some wild elephants. They were forced to endure a long trip at sea to England, an experience so unnatural for a wild elephant.

She was held at Chester Zoo until she was moved to the newly opened Blackpool Zoo. There she still remains to this day. She has endured life in a cage for over 50 long years, living in confinement, forced to endure crowds of people day in and day out.

At the zoo the elephants were made to perform circus-style tricks in order to please the paying public. The zookeepers used metal goads and even electric prods to control them and make them do what they wanted. We infiltrated a special training session held at the zoo by an animal trainer of the time, in 1998. We filmed elephants being trained to lift their feet and head, hold sticks in their mouths and jabbed with elephant hooks in the shoulder and head.

Thankfully these circus-style shows came to an end, in part thanks to pressure from animal welfare advocates.

Sadly, in 2009, Kate's life-long companion Crumple was euthanised after suffering from severe arthritis. Kate’s only connection to her wild home was gone.

How Kate still bears the captive tragedies of her life is remarkable. What pain she has endured over the years, over the decades, will never be known to us. What we do believe is that she should never have been there in the first place. If she had spent her life as a free elephant, not one locked up and confined in a zoo, then Kate could have spent her days roaming grasslands and tropical forests.

We shine a light on Kate.

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