Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe has plans to send two of several animal species living in Zimbabwe’s 14,600 kilometer Hwange National Park to North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-il. The “Noah’s Ark” is meant as a gift of gratitude to Kim for allowing the North Korea national soccer team to train in Zimbabwe. Two 18-month-old elephants, black and white rhinos, cheetahs, lions, leopards, giraffes, and zebras are speculated to be on the list of wildlife that will make the approximately 7,000-mile journey to North Korea. International conservation groups and conservationists within Zimbabwe, who are outraged at this gift of wildlife, believe the elephants will fare poorly during the trip and afterward in North Korea. Young elephants suckle from their mothers for four years, so without that nourishment, the elephants are expected to experience nutrition, immunity, and developmental problems. The move will also have a detrimental impact on their social and emotional development.
But all the captured animals, not just the elephants, may not survive long in North Korea because conservationists agree that North Korea doesn’t have zoos that meet the international standards. Yet a report from a Zimbabwean newspaper claims experts from the country will travel to North Korea to guarantee proper care of the animals. It’s uncertain when the move will happen, but, according to witnesses, an airfield has been cleared and the Hwange National Park is on lock-down. [ABC News, CNN]