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© Direction de la Communication - Michael Alesi

Princess Stéphanie founded the Baby & Népal association to take in two elephants threatened with euthanasia.

It was in 2013 that Princess Stéphanie founded the Baby & Népal association to fund the care of these animals which were taken in by the Fontbonne estate (Alpes-Maritimes).

The two elephants, which once belonged to Pinder’s Circus, were previously residents of the Tête d’Or zoo in Lyon. Aged 42 and 43 respectively, Baby and Népal were suspected of having tuberculosis. Following dubious blood tests, the zoo’s management moved the elephants away from the public in 2010.

On the death of Java, a 67-year-old female in the neighbouring enclosure who was believed to be the oldest elephant in captivity in Europe, the situation accelerated. A decree issued by the local prefecture ordered the two elephants to be slaughtered.

A media and legal battle then began. Gilbert Edelstein, Director of Pinder’s Circus and the owner of Baby and Népal, requested presidential clemency for his elephants. Princess Stéphanie pleaded their case with the French authorities and undertook to look after the animals. An enclosure, a pen, a septic tank…

© Direction de la Communication - Michael Alesi
© Direction de la Communication - Michael Alesi

The Princess carried out various works in the park at Fontbonne, which overlooks the Principality of Monaco, and was able to welcome Baby and Népal there on 12 July 2013.

New serological tests conducted on the elephants revealed that they were not infected with tuberculosis after all, and the prefecture’s decision to have them slaughtered was ultimately withdrawn. Baby and Népal then settled into a peaceful retirement together, pampered by their various carers. Népal died in 2018 as a result of chronic kidney failure.

“I love the quiet strength of these animals, their intelligence and sensitivity. They each have their own character and physical traits. Looking an elephant in the eye is the most beautiful thing.”

Princess Stéphanie of Monaco.

© Direction de la Communication - Michael Alesi
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