Kiri & Seila's Story to 2016

April 2016

We are delighted to announce, via an official letter we received from Kagoshima City Mayor Hiroyuki Mori, that the proposed international zoo swap of Kiri and Seila from Teuk Chhou Zoo in Cambodia to Hirakawa Zoo in Japan has officially been CANCELLED.

We applaud and humbly thank Hirakawa Zoo, Kagoshima City Council, and the Japanese and Cambodian authorities for embracing the unprecedented decision to cancel the trade of the two famous Cambodian elephants, Kiri and Seila, whom will now remain in their home country of Cambodia.

We are grateful for the support we received from a number of international wildlife NGOs for collaborating with us on this important trade issue:
- Voice for Zoo Animals Japan
- Asia for Animals Coalition (comprising of 16 international wildlife organisations)
- Wild Welfare
- Zoo Check Canada
We would also like to thank The Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) for recognizing our concerns in regards to the trade and the elephants' welfare

With the combined efforts of our supporters sending in letters, children taking part in our #ChildrenAreOurFuture campaign, and media attention, we have not only protected Kiri and Seila from the ordeal of an international move, but together we have also prevented white tigers and other African wildlife from being sent to the deplorable conditions of Teuk Chhou Zoo.

Due to the cancellation of this wildlife trade agreement, the Cambodian government is now in a position to positively focus on the preservation of its diverse wildlife and rich forest habitats.

EARS Asia was responsible for the care of Kiri and Seila from 2012 until September 2015 as detailed on the #FreeKiriAndSeila page of the EARS Asia website.


In August EARS Asia learnt of a potential international zoo trade in which Kiri and Seila were to be relocated from their current home at Teuk Chhou Zoo in Kampot, Cambodia to Hirakawa Zoo in Kagoshima Prefecture, Southern Japan.


Fiona Hardie, Welfare Director and donor to EARS Asia based in Hong Kong, immediately established a global call to stop the trade and instead to rehome these magnificent elephants into the beautiful forests of the Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary.


Petitions quickly gained momentum and with the help of elephant lovers and wildlife organisations around the world, there were 4 petitions launched with over 43,000 signatures collected. The petitions caught the attention of the media with stories published both locally in Cambodia and internationally which are listed on the MEDIA page. EARS Asia was sadly prohibited to provide any further care for Kiri and Seila in September 2015.

Cambodia's last remaining elephants


Kiri and Seila account for two of the last remaining elephants in Cambodia. Over the last 50 years, the population of Cambodian elephants has fallen drastically from 10,000 to approximately 500 elephants remaining (less than 100 in captivity, 350-500 in the wild). It is vital for Cambodian elephants to remain in Cambodia due to these critically low figures.

Footage provided by Alma Robinson from the USA. Alma visited Teuk Chhou Zoo as a tourist in 2011.


Kiri and Seila have lived at Teuk Chhou Zoo for over a decade and these photos show their emaciated body condition due to lack of food and water.


Alma found Teuk Chhou Zoo to be a "concrete prison for animals in small dirty enclosures, in some cases no water at all and no signs or even remnants of food. My heart went out to these poor suffering animals. What have they done to deserve such a life?"



Stagnant green pool Photo: Alma Robinson