Elephant List

In Defense Of Animals Releases 2012 "Ten Worst Zoos For Elephants" List..

"Scientific research shows what elephants need in order to thrive: space to walk miles every day, family social structures, and a rich natural environment," said Nicole Meyer, Director of IDAs Elephant Protection Campaign. "Elephant welfare continues to take a back seat in zoos, where hundreds of elephants are deprived of their most basic needs and condemned to a lifetime of deprivation, disease, and early death."

IDAs list comes on the heels of a recent Seattle Times investigation, which revealed the ugly truth the zoo industry is desperate to hide: zoos routinely compromise the welfare of elephants under the guise of "education" and "conservation." IDAs list illustrates how zoos recklessly breed elephants, and house them in unnatural social groupings in inadequate exhibits and cold climates.

Nearly 300 elephants are confined in 78 U.S. zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The Seattle Times research shows that captivity is actually killing elephants, not helping them. According to The Times, most of the elephants who died in U.S. zoos in the last 50 years suffered from diseases related to captivity, such as chronic foot problems caused by standing on hard surfaces and musculoskeletal disorders related to inactivity.

"The AZA is no better than the fox guarding the hen house and should be ashamed of itself for its deadly record of elephant care. As long as zoos continue to profit off the backs of elephants, elephants will continue to suffer," said Meyer. "If zoo leaders and the AZA truly cared about the welfare of these intelligent and sensitive animals, they would take immediate measures to improve the lives of the elephants currently languishing in substandard and antiquated conditions."

1. Edmonton Valley Zoo, Alberta, Canada - As Bad as It Gets The Edmonton Valley Zoo remains intransigent in its selfish will to condemn an elephant named Lucy to a life of solitary confinement. The zoo sent another elephant away in 2007, forcing Lucy to endure a life of utter loneliness in a tiny exhibit. This is cruel punishment for profoundly social female elephants. Despite worldwide outrage over Lucy’s plight, the zoo continues to allow Lucy to languish in immense psychological and physical pain. Lucy displays abnormal behavior, such as rocking and swaying, and suffers from chronic arthritis and foot problems. Lucy also reportedly struggles with a respiratory problem, almost certainly caused by Alberta’s bitterly cold climate. Its time for the zoo to put Lucys needs first and send her to a natural-habitat sanctuary in a warmer climate to enjoy the company of other elephants. This is Edmonton Valley Zoos third appearance on IDAs list. See: Keepers taking Lucy for a walk outside her tiny exhibit

2. Bowmanville Zoo, Bowmanville, Canada - A Miserable, Lonely Life Things couldnt get much worse for Limba, who lives all alone without the companionship of other elephants. This is a cruel sentence for female elephants who thrive in the companionship of other elephants. During the cold winter months, Limba is locked in a tiny cement cell. If that wasn’t bad enough, the zoo forces Limba to perform tricks in the circus and rents her out for fairs, parades, movies, commercials, and parties. Keepers manage Limba with a bullhook—a sharp metal tool used to control elephants by jabbing, hooking, striking, and instilling fear in them. The undignified acts Limba is forced to perform do nothing to educate or promote the understanding of elephants, yet the Canadian AZA allows the zoo to exploit Limba for its own profit. This is Bowmanville Zoos first appearance on IDAs list. See: Limba giving rides with Circus Mondo in May, 2012

3. Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, Washington - If at First You Dont Succeed, Try 112 Times! The Woodland Park Zoo returns to IDAs list for the fourth time as a prime example of the zoo industrys relentless attempts to breed elephants at any cost. The zoo forced an elephant named Chai to undergo 112 stressful and invasive artificial insemination procedures, yet not one of these attempts resulted in a calf. The zoo willfully ignored the grave risk that any elephant born at the zoo could die from the same herpes virus that killed Chais only offspring in 2007. Bamboo, Chai, and Watoto (the sole African) all suffer from problems related to captivity including foot disease, arthritis, and exhibit abnormal behavior, such as rocking and swaying. Yet the zoo remains steadfast in its stubborn denial that keeping elephants in the zoo’s antiquated exhibit in a cold climate will only worsen the elephants illnesses. Like people, not all elephants get along. Due to lack of space, one elephant is kept in solitary confinement, or away from the others at all times. This is cruel punishment for female elephants who thrive in the company of other elephants. The Woodland Park Zoo has also appeared on IDAs list as a Dishonorable Mention. See: Chai, at Woodland Park Zoo, exhibiting stereotypic behavior.