Home‎ > ‎

Zoocheck Position on Lucy the Elephant

For more than a decade, Zoocheck has advocated for the transfer of Lucy to one of the US elephant sanctuaries or to another facility where Lucy can experience enhanced conditions, a warmer climate and the company of other elephants. Our position during that time is that a team of expert elephant veterinarians should be brought in to conduct a comprehensive health and welfare assessment of Lucy to determine whether or not she is a good candidate for relocation.
In pursuit of that goal, Zoocheck, in cooperation with the two US elephant sanctuaries, made multiple offers to the Valley Zoo and the City of Edmonton to fund a team of independent, world renowned, specialist veterinarians with decades of experience in elephant care and management to conduct an assessment. Sadly, zoo officials steadfastly refused the offer. Instead, throughout the years they have relied on their own veterinary staff and consultant vets from the zoo industry. And throughout that time, the Valley Zoo has made nonsensical, unscientific claims about Lucy and what is in her best interests.
Several years ago Zoocheck commissioned four veterinarians (three who specialize in elephant care) to conduct a detailed review of Lucy's medical records, obtained by Zoocheck, and, based on those records, they believed that Lucy would benefit by being moved to a better facility in warmer climate with other elephants.  Two of those veterinarians and an expert in elephant transportation also observed Lucy in her zoo enclosure and suggested that she appeared to be a good candidate for relocation. Of course, without a comprehensive medical examination, numerous questions about Lucy's health and welfare status remained unanswered.

For many years Zoocheck has obtained Lucy's medical records for assessment by one or more leading elephant veterinarians. While those records now indicate that Lucy's health has deteriorated quite substantially, Zoocheck still supports bringing in an independent expert team to conduct a comprehensive assessment of Lucy's health and welfare. However, the longer the Valley Zoo and the City of Edmonton wait and leave Lucy in her current situation, the greater the likelihood that Lucy's persistent and chronic medical conditions will worsen and eventually kill her.

A number of years ago, the Valley Zoo shipped Samantha, the only companion elephant Lucy has ever known, to the North Carolina Zoo to be with other elephants in one of the largest zoo elephant paddocks in the United States. Valley Zoo officials made a decision to leave Lucy alone in her grossly inadequate exhibit in Edmonton. Few people in the zoo industry at that time believed it was appropriate to keep an elephant in social isolation. That would have been an opportune time put Lucy's best interests first and foremost and to send her elsewhere.

Lucy is now old for a zoo elephant. In fact, she is reaching an age when she will soon become an outlier in terms of North American zoo elephant lifespans. However, even though Lucy is older and her time may be running out, the Valley Zoo and the City of Edmonton still have a chance to do the right thing by finally permitting a truly independent comprehensive assessment of Lucy's health and welfare. At this point no one knows what an independent veterinary specialist team would find but it would almost certainly be of benefit Lucy, whatever the outcome.
Please write to the City of Edmonton Mayor and Members of Council and the Valley Zoo and urge them to do the right thing by finally putting Lucy's health and welfare first.