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General Articles

Princess Stephanie - Rescue Mission

Baby and Nepal escaped death and live like royals!

When Princess Stephanie of Monaco is not working for her association FightAidsMonaco, she is in FontBonne taking care of the two Asian female elephants Baby and Nepal she recently rescued. It was thanks to a private visit organized by the Club of Foreign Residents of Monaco (CREM) last Sunday, that we had the chance to meet the famous elephants and their Princess looking radiant in her milieu away from the mundane world of Monaco. In FontBonne she truly feels in her element, with her skin kissed by the sun and the wind, a perfect contrast for her piercing beautiful blue eyes, dressed in matching beige shorts and a shirt. She welcomes us happily, she is relaxed and speaks passionately about her quest to save Baby and Nepal from being executed and building a new home for them in her ranch.

Stephanie told us that elephants Baby and Nepal used to work at the Tete D’Or Park Zoo in Lyon and were suspected of being infected with TB, so they had been condemned to be euthanized because they posed a threat to the health of other animals and visitors. Authorities later lifted the threat of execution after an outcry that saw film-star-turned-animal-rights campaigner Brigitte Bardot threaten to quit the country for Russia if they were killed. More than 11,000 people signed a petition urging for the animals to be saved from euthanasia and their former owner, the Pinder Circus, had even called for the President to issue a stay of execution.

The campaign to save the animals heated up and got the attention of Pauline, Stephanie’s older daughter, who encouraged her mother to get involved. That was the beginning of a tough and long battle, but Princess Stephanie is someone who doesn’t take “No” for an answer, on the contrary challenges motivate her to push harder in order to reach her goal. And she succeeded! Baby and Nepal narrowly escaped a death sentence when the State Council suspended an execution order. The princess agreed to host the two elephants, aged in their 40’s at their ranch in Roc Agel in the Alpes-Maritimes region in the southeastern corner of France.

The lucky pachyderms were loaded into containers and lifted onto a truck for the eight-hour journey from the Tete d’Or Park zoo in Lyon arriving on July 11, 2013 to their new stately home. Monaco’s Royal family and Princess Stephanie were on hand to witness the elephants being loaded for the 500 km trip. Their new life began getting the royal treatment. The Princess told us you could see their metamorphosis as they had not been washed for many years and that now enjoy two douches per day. Marcel Peters, specialized in elephants, is the man who helped Stephanie bring Baby and Nepal from Lyon and he remains loyally by her side assisted by Masu and Charlie. Regular serological tests attest to the elephants’ good health. They will live out the rest of their lives in a specially built 3,500 square meter enclosure with a huge wooden shelter and a pool for them to drink from and cool off, without forgetting the incredible view over the Rock. They are being taking care by a Princess, so it is truly a fairy tale with a happy ending!

Photos by Celina Lafuente de Lavotha - Monaco Reporter

Tuesday, 17 June 2014    Section: General Articles    Author: Celina Lafuente de Lavotha
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