Category: Other elephant news

Scientific American: The Science Is In: Elephants Are Even Smarter Than We Realized

Scientific American has yet another excellent scientific article about the intelligence of elephants and the great injustice we do them by keeping them in zoos. They start with an important question:

We now have solid evidence that elephants are some of the most intelligent, social and empathic animals around—so how can we justify keeping them in captivity?

Every paragraph in the article is full of great points and solid scientific reasoning, so it’s hard to pick just one excerpt.

Refurbishing elephant enclosures so they are roomier and more intellectually stimulating is at once an acknowledgment and dismissal of the research on elephant intelligence and welfare. After all, if the zoos really have the animals’ best interests at heart, they would close their elephant exhibits. In 2005 the Detroit Zoo became the first to give up its elephants solely on ethical grounds. Spending so much time in close quarters—and waiting out the harsh Michigan winters indoors—left their two Asian elephants physically and mentally ill. Wanda and Winky were moved to the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s (PAWS) 930-hectare sanctuary in San Andreas, Calif. A handful of zoos have followed suit, but they are in the minority.

Read the full article in Scientific American

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Scientific American: Orcas and elephants are smart, social and way too large for captivity

Scientific American March 2014

Scientific American March 2014

The Scientific American editorial team comes out on the side of elephants and other large, intelligent animals, condemning their captivity and mistreatment in their March 2014 issue. Here’s an excerpt from the article, Free Willy – And All His Pals (title changed to “Free the Elephants and Orcas in Captivity” in the online version):

Orcas and elephants are not the only intelligent species that deserve our respect and attention, but they face unique hardships in captivity. Even though many zoos and sea parks raise awareness about the plight of animals in the wild, the suffering of captive orcas and elephants in particular overshadows this worthy goal. Some currently confined individuals may not survive if released, but the ones that can be, should be, and captive breeding programs should be terminated.

We would add that a sanctuary is another possibility for animals that cannot be released into the wild.

Read the full article in Scientific American

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Zoos’ dirty little secret

The Bradenton Herald posted a great opinion article about the shocking killing of a healthy giraffe by a Danish zoo.

People around the world were justifiably outraged when a healthy young giraffe was killed because he didn’t fit into a Danish zoo’s breeding plan. A second giraffe execution was in the works before public condemnation put a stop to it. But the only real surprise is how forthcoming these zoos were about it, since disposing of unwanted animals is typically the industry’s dirty little secret. Zoos everywhere, including right here in North America, routinely find ways to unload animals they no longer want or need.

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PAWS Welcomes Toronto Zoo Elephants

Wonderful news, from the PAWS newsletter below! Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants applauds Torontonians, their City Council and the Toronto Zoo’s Board of Directors for their compassion and courage in making the science-based decision to allow their elephants to live out their lives at the PAWS Arc 2000 elephant sanctuary.  Let’s hope this serves as an example for Bamboo, Chai and Watoto.

From Canada To California,
Toka, Thika and Iringa Have Arrived At ARK 2000

Today, October 20, three African elephants from the Toronto Zoo in Ontario, Canada, arrived safely at our ARK 2000 sanctuary in San Andreas, California. Their trip was funded by Award-winning television host, Bob Barker, who ardently advocated for the move, while PAWS assumes the financial responsibility for the lifelong care of the elephants. The elephants, Toka, age 43, Thika, age 33, and Iringa, age 44, will eventually share an 80-acre natural habitat with the sanctuary’s three resident African elephants, Mara, Maggie and Lulu.

“We are very happy that Toka, Thika and Iringa are finally here,” said PAWS’ president and co-founder, Ed Stewart. “PAWS looks forward to seeing these elephants make the transition from living in a zoo for most, if not all, of their lives, to exploring their expansive new home and meeting our resident African elephants. The elephants will receive excellent care from a dedicated staff, as they settle into their new lives at our sanctuary.”

“This move has been a long time coming, but what matters is that the elephants are here,” said Bob Barker, who was there to welcome the elephants, along with United Activists for Animal Rights president Nancy Burnet. “I am so excited for Toka, Iringa and Thika. The PAWS sanctuary is a place where elephants can just be elephants. It truly is a paradise for these magnificent animals.”

“After their cross-country journey, our first priority is getting them settled in and comfortable in their new home,” said Dr. Jackie Gai, DVM, PAWS’ veterinarian. “I’m looking forward to getting to know Iringa, Toka, and Thika, and we are committed to providing them with the best care possible.”

“PAWS thanks all of the people who made the road trip with Iringa, Thika and Toka,” said Stewart. “You couldn’t find a better or more qualified crew.” California-based Active Environments coordinated the move, under the direction of Margaret Whittaker. Accompanying the elephants on their trip to ARK 2000 were Dr. Joel Parrott, DVM, Executive Director, Oakland Zoo; Pat Lampi, Executive Director, Alaska Zoo; Dr. Angela Goodnight, DVM, Associate Veterinarian, Oakland Zoo; Jeff Kinzley, Elephant Manager, Oakland Zoo; Scott Blais, International Elephant Consultant, Co-founder, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.

The Toronto Zoo board voted in May 2011 to end the zoo’s elephant program and send the elephants to another facility. The decision was based on a recommendation made in a March 2011 report that cited the high cost of building a new elephant facility, among other issues. In October 2011, the Toronto City Council voted 31-4 to move the elephants to PAWS.

The move comes amid a larger debate about the suitability of keeping elephants in captivity, and on the heels of documentaries such as HBO’s ”An Apology To Elephants” (for which Lily Tomlin won an Emmy) and The Fifth Estate’s “The Elephant in the Room,” and The Seattle Times’ 2012 report on elephants in zoos, “Glamour Beasts: The Dark Side of Elephant Captivity.”

To date, 25 zoos have closed, or will be closing, their elephant exhibits, for reasons ranging from lack of funding for exhibit expansions to welfare concerns such as inadequate space, unsuitably cold climates, and insufficient social groups. Other zoos are enlarging older exhibits to provide more space for their elephants.

In the coming days and weeks we will be issuing updates, photos, and videos of the elephants to let you know how they’re settling into their new home. Check our website, like us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube Channel and watch your “in” box.

Welcome Toka, Iringa and Thika.

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Remembering Pat Derby

Pat Derby was a friend and champion to elephants suffering in zoos and circuses. Click here for a tribute to Pat Derby from PAWS.

Pat Derby with 71

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WATCH: The Elephant in the Room

Canada’s The Fifth Estate aired a great program about the fight to get Edmonton’s elephant into a sanctuary. Watch this in depth program here:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xv0v5b
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The Elephant in the Room to air on The Fifth Estate

The Fifth Estate, a show which discusses “issues of current interest across Canada” will air a show entitled “The Elephant in the Room” which is a ”report on the controversial handling of older elephants in captivity.”

Watch Friday, November 9 at 9 p.m. on CBC-TV (Canada). Bob McKeown reports on the controversy over what to do with older elephants when they are ready to retire.

Or you can watch the show online after it airs by clicking this link.

Check out this preview video:

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Judge Agrees With IDA, Says Los Angeles Zoo Elephants Are Not Healthy Or Happy

An exciting update from In Defense of Animals. If you appreciate the work they do, you can click through to the link to give a donation.

Tina and Jewel at the L.A. Zoo

Tina and Jewel at the L.A. Zoo

A five-year-long taxpayer lawsuit against the Los Angeles Zoo and its controversial $42 million elephant exhibit was decided Tuesday in favor of the plaintiffs. California Superior Court Judge John L. Segal released a scathing decision that called zoo officials “delusional.” He concluded that the elephants are not “healthy, happy or thriving.” The judge said the zoo’s new exhibit is injuring the three elephants who live there, Billy, Tina and Jewel, but stopped short of closing it. Instead, he ordered the zoo to make changes such as increasing exercise and rototilling to soften the soil in the exhibit, and banning bullhooks and electric shock devices.

The judge wrote: “The evidence at trial shows that life at the Los Angeles Zoo for Billy, Tina, and Jewel is empty, purposeless, boring, and occasionally painful. Their lives are supervised, managed, and controlled by zoo employees who appear to be in the dark about normal and abnormal behavior of elephants, in denial about the physical and emotional difficulties of the elephants they manage and whose lives they control, and under the misconception that the elephants prefer to live their lives in an exhibit with human companions rather than with other elephants.” Click here to read more, including what you can do to help.

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L.A. declares Aug. 3rd Elephant Awareness Day

This article about Los Angeles honoring abused elephants in captivity appears on the KFWB News Talk 980 website. Here is an excerpt:

The Los Angeles City Council today unanimously declared Aug. 3 Elephant Awareness Day in the city to increase awareness of the often poor conditions that pachyderms experience in captivity. The council also recognized Pacific Palisades resident Juliette West, a 16-year-old activist against elephant cruelty.

“Throughout history, elephants have played an important role in human economies, religion and culture, and they are beloved animals that attract crowds to zoos and circuses and many attractions,” said Councilman Tony Cardenas, who sponsored the resolution to increase awareness about the often poor treatment of elephants in captivity.

“Many people are unaware, though, of the inhumane abuses that these creatures suffer when they are held in captivity,” he said. Cardenas said elephants are often squeezed into “dangerously small spaces, causing them mental and physical harm” and rarely survive to their average expected life-span in the wild.

Click here to read the full article for more great quotes from the L.A. City Council about elephants in captivity.

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AZA Bullies Toronto Zoo

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has stripped the Toronto Zoo of their accreditation for allowing their three elephants to be retired to PAWS in California, a vast sanctuary in an elephant-friendly climate.  The AZA said the Toronto Zoo contravened it’s governance rules when the Toronto City Council and Toronto Zoo Board, rather than Zoo officials, voted for the humane retirement of their elephants to a sanctuary instead of to another zoo.

The AZA, in flexing its muscles, is trying to send a message to other zoos about retiring their elephants to a life that is undeniably physically and psychologically healthier.

This decision reflects poorly upon the AZA by their putting ego before the improved welfare of the elephants in their care.

Renowned experts such as Jane Goodall said: “. . . there are some species, like elephants, which will always be unsuited to zoo environments.  With their intense social bonds and need for large areas to roam, elephants should remain in the wild or when this is not possible, in a sanctuary that can provide them with adequate care, the chance to form natural bonds with other elephants, and large areas of natural habitat.”

Bamboo, Chai and Watoto, the three elephants at Woodland Park Zoo, desperately need to be retired to one of the two elephant sanctuaries.  Only there can they heal from the traumas of the 16-17 hour lock up in a tiny barn stall for over half the year, access to less than one acre outdoors, and the lack of companionship of their choosing.

Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants asks the Seattle City Council and Woodland Park Zoological Society not to be bullied by the AZA. It is long overdue for them to show the same courage and compassion—based on science—as Toronto and retire Bamboo, Chai and Watoto to a sanctuary.

For more information about this unfortunate AZA behavior, check out the True Colors article in Psychology Today.

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