We surveyed the attitudes of people toward captive elephants in australia, where importation into zoos has been controversial recently, compared with India, where elephants are indigenous. Both australian (AR, n = 101) and Indian (IR, n = 101) respondents rated conservation as the most important reason for the role of zoos and sanctuaries. Australian respondents were more concerned about the husbandry conditions for keeping wild animals in zoos and sanctuaries than Indian respondents (p = 0.02). This concern for captive animals increased with the higher educational level of the respondents. Female australian respondents were more concerned about the practice of keeping elephants in captivity than australian men. More australian respondents were prepared to pay extra to visit a zoo with elephants (AR 42.6%, IR 7.9%, p < 0.001). Indian respondents believed more than their australian counterparts that it was important for any zoo to display elephants, and wanted to interact with elephants by feeding, touching, and riding on them. While australian respondents? perceptions of captive elephants acknowledged their scientific value, Indian respondents viewed elephants primarily of religious, cultural, and historical significance. We conclude that australians and Indians have different requirements for keeping elephants in zoos, which should inform zoo directors about the best way to present them to the public.
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