Get elephants out of zoos!

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Get elephants out of zoos!

By now we’ve all heard the great news about the elephants at the Toronto Zoo: at the end of November, the Toronto city council voted overwhelmingly in favour of sending Iringa, Toka, and Thika to PAWS, an animal sanctuary in California.  In fact, more and more zoos are closing their elephant exhibits, realizing that we are completely incapable of providing any semblance of a natural life for them in captivity.

Mara the elephant at PAWS

Mara, an elephant living at PAWS, and a friend.

Did you know that elephants in zoos die decades earlier than those living in the wild?

A survey comparing the records of 4,500 African elephants both in the wild and in captivity found that the median lifespan of a wild elephant is 56 years; the median lifespan of a captive elephant, just 16.9.  Asian elephants appeared to fare even worse, suffering higher rates of infant mortality than their African relatives.  The researchers suggested that stress and obesity are the main culprits of these early deaths, concluding that “bringing elephants into zoos profoundly impairs their viability.” (more)

Meanwhile, Lucy continues to languish alone at the Edmonton Valley Zoo despite the fact that activists (including Bob Barker!) have been campaigning for her freedom for years, and at least one zoo is even expanding its elephant exhibit:

 In 2003, the San Diego Zoo captured and imported 11 African elephants from their natural habitat in Swaziland, despite the fact that the species is designated “vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, leaving only 36 elephants in the whole country.  Experts working with the Amboseli Elephant Research Project, the longest running study of wild elephants in the world, decried the decision, stating that “Taking elephants from the wild is not only traumatic for them, it is also detrimental to their health. … No matter how well your zoo may treat the elephants, your visitors would not want to know what those tranquil elephants went through to make it possible for them to be viewed in captivity.”(more)

Some zoos which keep elephants mislead the public by claiming that they do so in the name of conservation, but that’s far from the truth:

 …even the zoo industry has stated that they have no intention of returning elephants in North American zoos to the wild;  nor do they believe that doing so would save elephants from extinction. Captive elephants breed very rarely, which is part of the reason that zoos continue to capture wild ones…(more)

Learn more about elephants in zoos–and zoos in general–at our new info page.

Lucy in the snow

Lucy stands in the snow in her tiny enclosure at the Edmonton Valley Zoo, where she has lived alone for years.

1 Comment


July 16, 2013 at 2:53 am

I just love animals! And I just found out that Manila Zoo has a cute elephant named Mali, and she is the only elephant in the Philippines! She has lived there for almost all of her lives, for more than 30 years. The zoo should feel like her sweet and cozy home now. But then, I read some articles in, and I noticed that Mali is in fact sad and lonely! Look at her here: She is like a prisoner, who cannot spend her days with her friends, roam in vast territories, and have delicious adequate food! She even suffers from foot problems. Why does she deserve this? 🙁 Please Help Her!

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