Animal gift to North Korea raises concerns

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On May 19, many animals, one of each species from Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, to be specific, were shipped to North Korea.

Although President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Kim Jung Il of North Korea are strong allies in the international eye, the animals, ranging from lions to baby elephants, are not being given as a gift. Rather, they are being given as a “simple business transaction,” said Vitallis Chadenga, the park chief in charge of processing the delivery.

The baby elephants allegedly cost around $10,000, according to a CNN source. The reason behind this transaction is not clear. However, the action has definitely caused much concern among conservationists.

Environmentalists fear that, separated from their mothers, the baby elephants will not survive the airplane trip to North Korea. In fact, one giraffe has already died during the shipment, and it is unlikely that the young and undeveloped elephants will have a brighter fate.

Students at AHS also show concern for the vulnerable animals. “I think they won’t be safe because they’re used to their own natural habitat,” said junior Jason Eman.

In the unlikely event that the animals do survive during their trip, it is very improbable that they will survive, at least for a long amount of time, in North Korea. As opposed to the naturally rich environment of Zimbabwe, North Korea’s low-grade zoos will most likely prove to be very insufficient to the needs of the wild animals.

It is planned that the animals will be displayed at a zoo in North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang. However, some even fear that the animals might end up as dinner for Il, as it did in 2007, when a German breeder sent Il numerous rabbits meant to go on display.

The shipment of animals, as well as their capture itself, was all a very clandestine process. Many animals were caught secretly and without knowledge in the Hwange National Park.

An event similar to this one had happened earlier in the 1980s, where two rhinos from Zimbabwe were delivered to North Korea, only to die in a matter of weeks.

Although Mugabe is receiving much heat from domestic and international forces, the criticism doesn’t seem to bother him as he is evidently accustomed to such criticism as a result of his politics.