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Today, one out of three Asian elephants lives in captivity. Although captive elephants have existed since 3500 years, they have never been domesticated. During the last few decades the life of the captive elephants brought to temples, cities and tourist resorts have become more miserable than it was while they lived in jungle camps. In order to improve the situation, the living conditions of captive elephants must be changed fundamentally, i.e. they should lead a life under more natural conditions. The lack of fundamental knowledge about wild elephants induces anthropocentric actions and argumentation, but is of little help to the captive elephants.
The Asian Elephant in Captivity provides data on ecology and behaviour of captive elephants in relation to their wild conspecifics. They stem from a recent research project of the authors and their co-workers in Sri Lanka and also from a number of their studies on wild and captive elephants in Sri Lanka, South India, Myanmar and South Africa as well as in several European zoos and circuses. Aspects of social behaviour, reproduction and musth as well as stereotypical behaviour, sleep and tool-use of wild and captive elephants are described.Finally, recommendations on how to improve the living conditions of captive elephants are also added.