July 12, 1999


The Honorable Thabo Mbeki
President Republic of South Africa
Union Buildings
Private Bag X83
Pretoria 0001

Dear President Mbeki:

I am writing to you today from the United States of America on an issue which I believe effects us all as part of the international community charged with the task as guardians over the earth, its land, its resources and its other inhabitants.

I read a news report regarding the 14 baby elephants currently housed on the African Game Service's property, which were captured last year by animal dealer Riccardo Ghiazza and over which there has been much dispute. I have been following the story of these captive elephants over the last year, and am deeply saddened to learn that the elephants remaining in captivity on Ghiazza's property are being beaten and abused by staff members/keepers.

I am writing to ask you to please intervene on behalf of these young elephants-to rescue them from this unfortunate situation and place them in a wildlife preserve with adult elephants who are best equipped naturally to care for and nurture these pachyderm juveniles. I realize that there are probably economic and maybe even political factors involved that complicate this issue and that asking for this intervention is probably a sizable request, but still I feel I must respectfully request that you take action to relieve the pain and suffering of these poor animals.

Elephants have always held a very special place in my heart. I have always admired their grace and beauty they possess and have read much about their intelligence, gentleness and community/familial instincts. My husband and I have talked and dreamed of a vacation safari to experience their beauty first hand and plan to someday visit your continent to see all the beauty of your land as well as the elephants and other animals inhabiting it. Because we do not believe in the forceful imprisonment and captive display of animals, and thus do not visit zoos or circuses here, it would be a wondrous treat for us to observe (in a non-invasive manner and from a safe distance, of course) elephants in the wild. And, even if it turns out that I am never able to visit your land and see them with my own eyes, it would make me indescribably happy to know that they are there-in the wild and living free.

I thank you for your time in reading my letter and hope you will consider my request.


Leigh-Anne Dennison
Lakewood, Ohio - U.S.A.