January 15, 2009
From the Elephant Sanctuary in Tenn.
May 02, 2008
2 Wild elephants electrocuted
The Times of India (Full Story)
Two elephants were electrocuted early on Thursday when they came in contact with a high-tension overhead wire near the Badrama wildlife sanctuary.
Villagers demand action against electricity department officials who, they claimed, had failed to check the low-hanging high-voltage power line that caused the deaths.
October 16, 2007
Elephants in the Denver Zoo
MARC BEKOFF, Animal Advocate and Professor Emeritus Ecology and Evolutionary
Biology, gives us permission to reprint his position statement on the issue
of whether or not more elephants should be added to the Denver Zoo. It was originally published here:
For more information about Marc's FABULOUS books on animal emotions and his
latest book, "The Emotional Lives of Animals," click here:
To learn more about the organization that he and Jane Goodall founded, click
Thick Skins, Tender Hearts and Broken Spirits: Should there be more
Elephants in the Denver Zoo?
By Marc Bekoff
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Should the Denver Zoo spend $52 million to increase the size of its Asian
elephant habitat and boost the number of captive elephants from two current
residents to as many as eight, who they'll keep in what they call an
"elephant park" furnished with a hot tub?
Five major zoos in the United States - the Bronx Zoo and those in Detroit,
Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia - recently decided to phase out
their elephant exhibits, despite the fact that they're money makers, because
they cannot meet the social, emotional and physical needs of these awesome
mammoths, and also because of the high cost of keeping captive elephants.
Elephants are highly intelligent, extremely emotional, very social and like
to roam. By definition, zoos are antithetical to these needs. The proposed
10-acre elephant park is merely a bigger, but thoroughly inadequate, cage,
and the elephants won't get it all.
The Denver Zoo justifies its intentions by claiming...
The Denver Zoo justifies its intentions by claiming that its park will help
to conserve this endangered species. In an interview I did on Colorado
Public Radio with Craig Piper, vice-president of the Denver Zoo, Piper
called these elephants an "insurance population." Insurance for what? The
Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) that oversees accreditation of zoos
in the United States admits in its own executive summary "Little to no
systematic research has been conducted on the impact of visits to zoos and
aquariums on visitor conservation knowledge, awareness, affect or behavior."
Terry Maple, renowned director of Zoo Atlanta, notes, "Any zoo that sits
around and tells you that the strength of zoos is the SSP (Species Survival
Plan) is blowing smoke." The SSP is an AZA program that attempts to ensure
the survival of certain wildlife species using managed breeding programs and
reintroducing captive bred wildlife into proper habitat. The Denver Zoo puts
less than 10 percent of its annual budget into conservation efforts (and
about the same into education), one quarter of what the Bronx Zoo devotes to
conservation. Piper admitted that it's extremely unlikely - impossible -
that any of these insurance elephants would ever be reintroduced to the
wild. Every conservation biologist knows that retaining suitable habitat for
animals is enormously difficult and there's no hope that habitat into which
elephants could be released would be saved for them in their absence.
Captive elephants merely insure a zoo's income.
There also is a lot concern about how captive elephant groups are
established and maintained. Piper said that the zoo might be able to house,
for example, six bull elephants and use them for breeding and also for
sending around to other zoos. Redecorating zoos with any animals raises
serious ethical questions. In order to maintain the new elephant park,
individuals will be shipped in and out, and friendships, and strong and
enduring social bonds, will be broken repeatedly. Elephants are highly
emotional, sentient beings and they suffer from post-traumatic stress
disorder (PTSD) and psychological flashbacks. They grieve, often
irreversibly, when life-long friendships are broken. Elephants have thick
skins, but tender hearts.
A recent essay in the New York Times concluded we're driving elephants crazy
by keeping them in captivity and by shipping them here and there as if
they're pieces of furniture. In spring 2001, Asian elephants were regularly
moved in and out of the Denver Zoo as if they were couches being moved from
room to room. Rocky Mountain Animal Defense (RMAD) and I got involved
because of the lack of concern of the Denver Zoo and the AZA. Dolly, a
32-year-old female, was removed from her friends, Mimi and Candy, and sent
to Missouri on her "honeymoon," as the zoo called it, to breed. A few months
later, Hope, a mature female, and Amigo, a 2 -year-old male (who had been
taken from his mother), were sent to the Denver Zoo, where they lived next
door to Mimi and Candy.
In the following months, Mimi got increasingly agitated. In June 2001, Mimi
pushed Candy over, she couldn't get up, and had to be euthanized (the zoo
didn't have a proper elephant hoist). Two days after Candy died, and a day
after she was autopsied within smelling distance of the other elephants,
Hope got angry, escaped from her keepers and rampaged through the zoo.
Miraculously, no one was seriously injured. Hope was then transferred out of
the zoo, and a new elephant, Rosie, was brought in. When elephants move in
and out of groups, their social order is severely disrupted and individuals
get very upset. I've seen this first hand among wild elephants in Kenya and,
not surprisingly, this is what happened at the Denver Zoo. And it could
happen again. Playing "musical chairs" with animals that have no choice can
be serious business with dire consequences.
Zoos are no place for elephants. As humans, we can do just about anything we
want to other animals so let's make the correct choice phase out the
elephant exhibit and send these amazing animals to sanctuaries where they
can live out their lives with social and emotional stability and respect and
dignity. The Denver Zoo should put the money elsewhere so that other
residents can have the better lives they deserve.
Marc Bekoff is professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the
University of Colorado. His latest book, "The Emotional Lives of Animals,"
discusses these and other issues about animals in captivity.