(dpa) - After a four-month campaign by Indian animal lovers, the government relented and said it would not gift a baby elephant to Armenia, it was reported Saturday.
The federal government had promised to send a six-year-old elephant, named Veda, to join the only male elephant in Armenia's zoo, the Hindu newspaper reported.
Veda was born in the Bannerghatta national park outside the southern Indian city of Bangalore, and locals complained she would not survive the freezing temperatures of Armenia.
Animal lovers said it would be cruel to separate baby Veda from her grandmother Suvarna, mother Vanita, brother Gokula and sister Gowri, as elephants are very social animals. They wrote letters to Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and held protests outside the park that is Veda's home. Their campaign was supported by the Britain-based Born Free Foundation.
On Friday, the government relented and said Veda could stay with her family in Bangalore. School children and animal rights activists celebrated at the park, distributed sweets and offered prayers at a local temple. They held banners that said, "Elephantine thanks to the PM" and "Veda saved from a cruel fate".
In 1999, Armenian officials asked the Indian government for a female elephant for their lone male originally from Moscow. In 2003, then Indian premier Atal Behari Vajpayee promised them an elephant during his visit to Armenia.
The lone 15-year-old elephant was also from India and very lonely in the Armenian zoo. "Maybe he should be brought back to India," said animal rights activist Suparna Baksi Ganguly, who led the campaign for Veda.