Friday 06 July 2018 | 102

Maya finally released after a tireless fight!

What a magnificent victory! Thank you! Maya has just been released from the circus that ran its business from city to city for more than 40 years! This victory and this great relief for the elephant, were obtained thanks to all of you who believed in us! After a long campaign, enriched by a long-term investigation, expert evaluations, and several lawsuits for her, Maya will now live in a park in Italy, far from the spikes of the ankuses and the dark interior of the transportation trucks. Now, back to how we fought for her.

Hr blog

First milestones: investigation and judicial proceedings

As of September 2016, we are setting up an investigation on elephants held in circuses. Very quickly, the case of Maya, an elephant of 49 years, captured as an infant in Asia, challenges us. The evidence gathered during this investigation, available in our July 2017 report, leads to the conclusion that the decree regulating circuses had not been respected. The conditions of the detention of Maya do not meet the basic needs of her species. No security is put in place during the shows for the public and for her. Despite her advanced age, Maya must comply with the trainer's orders by adopting painful postures which are far from natural for her.

In the spring of 2017, Maya's state of health is worrying: we ask to have access to the reports from the veterinary inspectors who were mandated by the Prefect. We put in place extraordinary procedures that we were unfortunately denied. And in May, Maya is nowhere to be found! Our investigators then return to the field and actively search for her.

An expert evaluation that hits the mark and a reserved place in a sanctuary

In September 2017, our investigators find Maya and follow the circus that exploits her. Film footage that was gathered confirms that she is in great distress: John Knight, veterinarian and international wildlife specialist, consultant for One Voice, says her physical condition is so appalling that he raises the issue of euthanasia. Dr. Joyce Poole, Co-Director of "ElephantVoices" and Lucy Anne Bates, Ethologist at the University of Sussex, related to the "Non-Human Rights Project" are unanimous on herdeteriorating state of health.

We then register a complaint with the prosecutor of Agen for "acts of cruelty" to an animal held in captivity and ask the court in Bordeaux that the Prefect of Lot-et-Garonne removes Maya from the circus. A press conference is organized at the "Elephant Haven" sanctuary which is under construction, to which One Voice donated € 50,000 in 2016: we are preparing Maya's highly anticipated release from the circus, reserving her place so that she can finally take a well-deserved retirement.

Institutions are committed, the first gatherings and a popular movement

The announcement is historic! We receive letters from two institutions of reference for veterinarians in France, the National Veterinary Order and the Federation of French Veterinary Trade Unions (FSVF), both of which condemn wild animal shows in itinerant circuses and thus legitimize our fight for the liberation of Maya. Our hopes increase as the trial approaches!

October 17th, we are in Bordeaux: the objective is to convince the judge to lean on the Prefect, guarantor of the protection of animals, on our behalf! The decision fails: the judge believes that Maya is fine ... He relied on the reports produced by the opposing party.

We immediately launch a petition with the #JusticePourMaya, signed by famous personalities such as Corine Pelluchon, Jacques-Antoine Granjon, Christine Bravo or Laurence Parisot and supported by other associations. In just a few hours, several tens of thousands of signatures are registered, claiming along with us the release of Maya!

We meet in Paris on October 28th at a silent gathering in Place du Québec, near the Ministry of Ecology to make heard the plight of Maya. There are more than 200 of you who joined us, with the support of associations like Vegan Impact and the CCE2A. We continue the fight for her, by setting up other gatherings (in Cannes on November 4th in front of the circus, and on November 16th in front of the Lot-et-Garonne Prefecture in Agen).

The Prefecture sensitive to the expert reports, and to the weight of support

True moment of emotion: November 24th, the image of Maya appears on the facade of the building of Jacques-Antoine Granjon, founder and CEO of the group vente-privee. During 48 hours, no less than 350,000 motorists see Maya, accompanied by #JusticePourMaya. "For my part, I support all the fighting of One Voice, and especially that for circuses without animals," says the entrepreneur. He then co-signs with the association a letter addressed to Nicolas Hulot, the Minister of Ecology, to put an end to the ordeal of these animals.

At the beginning of December 2017, at the reading of our new health report compiling the expert evaluations from six internationally recognized specialists, the Prefect of Lot-et-Garonne finally made the decision for an independent inspection. As far as the support of activists and supporters is concerned, it does not weaken, 100,000 signatures on the petition has been reached!

Time seems to stretch, the results of the actions undertaken are delayed. In desperation, we propose to the circus to buy Maya, because a sponsor is ready to help us. We contact the circus directly and our lawyer contacts theirs. No answer...

A vain attempt from the circus to censor us

The circus then attacks us in the court of Strasbourg. These include the withdrawal of the petition, all articles about the elephant, tweets and Facebook publications. After casting a rumour that Maya was dead, yet hiding her and leaving our anxious correspondence unanswered, the circus confirms during the hearing that she is alive. His lawyer adds that she had an abscess treated, and that the veterinary inspection requested by the Prefect had taken place the day before ...

On February 22nd, our freedom of expression is maintained, as it should, and we continue the fight! It is then necessary to find Maya, the circus does everything to hide her. We find her in Alès, locked in her trailer while the lawyer of the circus owner had said during the hearing that she was retired in the Lot-et-Garonne. We urgently write to the DDPP (Departmental Directorate for the Protection of Populations)!

We win the case, but nothing is certain yet

In March,the veterinarian reports on Maya's state of health are mandated. He reaches the same conclusions as our specialists: her diet is not adapted to her needs, she suffers a lot from her feet and always has an untreated abscess. His record is clear: "Maya requires stable breeding conditions with longer and longer breaks between shorter trips." The director of the DDPP added that circus activity is incompatible with Maya's state of health. Direct consequence: The Prefect then asks the circus to communicate within a period of fifteen days, in which fixed place he now intends to allow Maya to live, where she will be placed on June 30th at the latest.

In April, we learn that Maya would go to Italy, to a wildlife park. We would have preferred a sanctuary, of course, but in this park, she will be free from her truck and travelling, and she will be able to get the care she so badly needs.

The delay of fifteen days is reached and from the side of the Prefecture, it is radio silence! In Bordeaux, the administrative court, which we summon again, considers that the Prefecture has not remained inactive, and that the state of Maya has not worsened since the first appeal in October. We denounce the immobility of the administrative court and the silence of the Prefect.

It is with great difficulty that we released at the end of April images of Maya, locked up in her trailer. Her stereotypical behaviour is strong. A courier leaves the same day to request an appointment with the Agen prosecutor as well as news of our complaint for "acts of cruelty". A letter is also sent to the Prefect of Lot-et-Garonne, this time to ask her to transfer Maya to a sanctuary under our responsibility or it forces the circus to leave her at her winter quarters.

At the beginning of May, the philosopher Corine Pelluchon writes a tribune in the press, co-signed by leading figures in the defence of animals, such as Laurent Baheux, Thierry Bedossa, Allain Bougrain-Dubourg, Sophie Dol, Loïc Dombreval, Pascal Durand , Yolaine de La Bigne, Frédéric Lenoir, Laurence Parisot, Jacques Perrin and Franck Sorbier. The petition at the end of May has 150,000 signatures! 

After all the rumours, comes the real light at the end of the tunnel

At the end of May, without news from the authorities, we raise the alert by going in action in front of the circus, located in Montredon-des-Corbières near Narbonne. On site, we can only see Nelly and Brigit. Maya is left inside the tent.

In parallel, we learn from our British partner, the Born Free Foundation, that an old elephant coming from France would be expected in Great Britain. The place is unsuitable. We are writing to the Minister of the Ecological and Solidarity Transition to support our request for a shelter that truly meets the needs of Maya.

On June 12th, the prosecutor of Agen receives us concerning our complaint for "acts of cruelty" which is still being investigated. We now know that Maya's release is very close. It remains now to confirm the place of retirement. But even once Maya is liberated, there can be no allowance for impunity, we will make sure of this.

July 5th, 2018: Maya is finally out of the circus!

For Maya, the life of roaming around in a truck or living in car parks, is finished! She is now in Italy, in Milan, in a park where she enjoys space, a pool, and care. We went there to learn more about her living conditions. How happy she looks on this photograph taken in the moments following her arrival!

We are authorising our Italian partner association, LAV, so that they can regularly ensure the well-being of Maya.

Jessica Lefèvre-Grave
Hr blog

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Help us get a lion called Sultan out of his prison!

Comments 102

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joana | Friday 17 August 2018

merci du fond du coeur pour elle , je n ai pas de mots ... savoir que maintenant maya est sorti de cet enfer est un espoir magnifique .

zorg63 | Friday 17 August 2018

bravo et merci pour ce long combat.
des gens comme vous me redonne confiance en l'espèce humaine.
malheureusement il y a tant d'animaux maltraitées qui ont besoin de notre aide...la bataille contre la maltraitance ne doit pas faiblir.
merci encore

NOKIA | Sunday 12 August 2018

BRAVO POUR ELLE IL FAUT CONTINUER LE COMBAT....

Margo | Thursday 26 July 2018

Bravo à tous ceux qui font exister One Voice !!! Grâce à vous, l'association n'a jamais baissé les bras pour sauver l'éléphante Maya, donc bravo pour cette belle constance, votre détermination et cet engagement toujours fort et résolu en faveur des animaux.