Delegates at a U.N. wildlife conference in Geneva voted Sunday to ban the practice of taking baby elephants from their natural habitat and placing them in zoos and circuses.
Forty-six countries at the UN Convention ion International Trade in Endangered Species voted to outlaw the practice, white 18 voted against it, including the United States. Nineteen abstained.
The ban proclaims entertainment venues to be "unacceptable and inappropriate destinations" for elephants.
"This decision will save countless elephants from being ripped away from their families in the wild and forces to spend their lifetimes imprisoned in substandard conditions at zoos," the Humane Society International said Sunday. "The capture of baby elephants is horribly cruel and traumatic to both the mothers, their calves and the herds that are left behind."
Sunday’s decision specifically targets Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
CITES says Zimbabwe has sent more than 100 baby elephants to China since 2012, traumatizing the animals who it says are beaten, kicked, and treated cruelly by their handlers. Several have died.