A campaign has been launched to get enough money to bring a little happiness into the life of Tania, who campaigners say is the world's saddest elephant.
Sitting in her small enclosure at Targu Mures Zoo, in Romania, Tania looks a sad figure and animal activists warn that they fear she is now so miserable that she may not last much longer after being starved of company from her own kind for decades.
Born in the wild in 1975, she was captured when she was just three years old in 1978 when the rest of her herd was wiped out.
Instead of being placed with other elephants were she might have got over the trauma, she was sold to a French zoo, the Plaisance du Touch, where she lived alone and isolated for a quarter of a century until 2004 when she was moved to Spain. The campaigners say the isolation was a disaster for the young female elephant.
Animal Campaigner Roberta Brown told CEN: "Elephants are highly sociable beings, with very strong ties to their families. Losing her family and then being isolated must've had a devastating effect on Tania."
In Spain she was temporarily given a companion when she was placed with another female elephant, Khaiso, that also had a difficult past and the two were quickly inseparable. But when the Terra Natura zoo got into financial difficulties she was again sold off – and in 2009 was taken to Le Barben zoo in France.
From there she was sent to Targu Mures Zoo in Romania, where she is now again on her own and becoming increasingly depressed. To make matters worse, the enclosure she was supposed to be housed in was not ready, and she had to be kept in a tiny cage until it was finished, with the noise from the building work a constant distraction.
Brown said: "Elephants are traditionally pack animals with close family ties but Tania lives all alone in the Romanian zoo where her conditions are inappropriate to say the least.
"She is showing signs of severe stress and has a damaged foot which is in need of treatment. She is often seen swaying from side to side and also seen rubbing her head against her enclosure, which are both signs of distress in elephants. The floor has no drainage, and Tania has to stay with her ill feet in her own urine and faeces."
The campaigners want Tania to be taken away from the zoo and taken to a sanctuary, where she can be slowly integrated with other elephants, and where she will be in a more stimulating environment.
Brown said: "She has had a life of misery and neglect, and it would be fabuous to give her one last chance of some happiness at the end of days after all she has gone through."
Visit the FreeTania Facebook page to help raise funds.
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