Tito's elephants to be rescued from slaughter

ZAGREB, Aug 7, 2000 -- (AFP) Two elephants presented to the late Yugoslav president Tito are to be saved from slaughter thanks to several animal protection organizations, a Croatian daily reported on Sunday.

A gift from former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi to Tito, the pair, Sonia and Lanka, spent 30 years along with many other exotic species on the island of Brijuni, in northern Croatia, which was reserved for the communist elite in former Yugoslavia.

The animal protection association in Osijek in eastern Croatia found out that a German businesman, identified only as Gertner, recently bought the elephants with the intention of having them killed for their precious ivory tusks, Vecernji List reported.

Animal protection associations throughout Europe raised the alarm and the Ganzerdorf safari park in Austria, which had also wanted to buy the elephants, offered to take Sonia and Lanka, Vecernji List added.

Ganzerdorf's experts claim the animals in Brijuni National Park live in very poor conditions.

Davorko Feil, head of the Osijek animal protection association, told Vecernji List that charges would be brought against the manager of Brijuni Park and Gertner for mistreatment of animals and breach of veterinary regulations.

Original article