News About Lucy


Edmonton Zoo lacks courage - still a need for an independent review

posted 27 Dec 2019, 13:37 by Rob Laidlaw   [ updated 27 Dec 2019, 13:49 ]

Opinion Piece - Zoocheck Inc. (December 2019)

The Edmonton Valley Zoo recently released three new veterinary reports about Lucy. Under the direction of their new zoo director, they reportedly claimed they'd be having a fresh look at Lucy's situation. Zoo management kept quiet about who they were contracting to conduct the review of Lucy's health until the actual reports were released. As we expected, they chose not to use any of the expert elephant veterinarians recommended by animal welfare groups and the outcome of this veterinary review was exactly what most Lucy advocates predicted. 

The zoo's veterinary team consisted of the same US-based consultant veterinarian the Edmonton Valley Zoo has used for years, a second US veterinarian who spent approximately seven years working at the Ringling Bros.[circus] Elephant Conservation Center in Florida and a third veterinarian from Calgary who specializes in horses. The reports they produced were extremely brief, being 9, 3 and 2 pages long respectively.

It wasn't at all surprising to Lucy advocates that the zoo veterinarians editorialized in their reports, including offering criticisms of elephant sanctuaries. Nor was the lack of substantive new recommendations regarding how to improve Lucy's psychological and social health surprising. 

This latest move by the zoo shows that they still lack the courage to reach outside of their own industry and its entrenched views.  If Lucy's best interests were the priority, they'd be chomping at the bit to have new elephant veterinarians, elephant biologists and elephant sanctuary operators into the zoo to conduct a review and to offer advice (and this has been offered free of charge to the zoo on numerous occasions). Instead, the zoo management remains intransigent and continues to defend the keeping of a socially isolated female elephant in a small, outdated exhibit in a completely inappropriate climate.

The zoo management also doesn't seem to acknowledge or factor in the potential health and welfare benefits Lucy would experience if she were in a better environment. This is something other relocated elephants have experienced when moved to enhanced, more natural, spacious conditions. When the Calgary Zoo moved its elephants, officials  said they recognized there was a risk in the transport, but that the potential risk was outweighed by the enormous benefits that could be achieved for the animals. In other words, the risk was worth the return. The same goes for Lucy.

And if one accepts the zoo's claim that Lucy is too sick to be moved, there should be a far more comprehensive and proactive drive to come up with ways of making Lucy's life better for as long as she remains alive. After more than 40 years at the Edmonton Valley Zoo, she still lives in a small, boring exhibit with little to do. She's never even had a pool to submerge in. And the zoo management should also be devising ways of bringing the zoo into compliance with the Alberta zoo standards regarding Lucy. That alone might provide some relief to her.

The struggle to help Lucy continues and the need for a independent expert review remains. And the Edmonton Valley Zoo should, at the least, be required to comply with the Alberta zoo standards. If they don't have to, then why do the standards even exist. Please continue writing to the Premier of Alberta asking that the province's zoo standards be enforced! Check out the Take Action for Lucy page on this site for more information.

Supreme Court dismisses case involving Lucy the elderly elephant

posted 27 Dec 2019, 12:15 by Rob Laidlaw


Lucy, an Asian elephant, has been housed at Edmonton Valley Zoo since 1977

Kathleen Harris · CBC News · Posted: Dec 19, 2019 4:00 AM ET | Last Updated: December 19

For years, Zoocheck Canada has raised concerns about Lucy, who has been housed at the Edmonton Valley Zoo since 1977. The group says the zoo is violating provincial standards by keeping her isolated from her own species and failing to provide her with a facility that meets her "biological and behavioural needs."

Zoocheck's lawyer Stephen Panunto said the organization wanted the province to impose conditions on the zoo's permit to force compliance.

The top court dismissed their appeal application Thursday morning. As is custom, the Supreme Court did not give a reason for dismissing the case.

Zoocheck has fought unsuccessfully for more than a decade to have Lucy moved to a wildlife sanctuary in a warmer climate. The Supreme Court already refused to hear a related case in 2012.

The Edmonton Valley Zoo has maintained Lucy is treated well and that she is continually monitored by in-house and outside veterinarians.

'Charming and precocious' elephant

Countering claims that Lucy should be with other elephants, the zoo has said she doesn't know how to behave as part of a herd and that being around others would be very stressful for her.

On its website, Edmonton Valley Zoo calls Lucy a "charming and precocious Asian elephant" who was orphaned in Sri Lanka.

"Lucy is often called a 'people elephant' and her herd is her zoo family. She simply adores her caregivers who ensure that she's happy and healthy," the website reads.

Celebrity support

The fight over Lucy's care has drawn celebrity attention over the years, with game show legend Bob Barker and prominent authors like Margaret Atwood speaking out in support of animal welfare groups.

Lucy has had problems with her feet, hips, teeth and respiratory system. The zoo has said transporting Lucy could kill her.

Julie Woodyer, campaigns director for Zoocheck, said that while the zoo could have moved her easily in past, her deteriorating health means it could be too late now.

"It is possible that the zoo has created a self-fulfilling prophecy by stalling so long that she may be too ill for transport, since her medical records now show that she is going down due to colic, a very dangerous situation for elephants," she said. "However, even if it is too late to move her safely, there are still things they could do to improve her life."

Woodyer suggested installing a heated therapeutic pool to soothe Lucy's joints and building a shelter over her yard to allow her to exercise without walking over ice and snow.

The Elephant in the Courtroom Redux

posted 4 Jul 2019, 07:29 by Rob Laidlaw

https://ablawg.ca/2019/07/02/the-elephant-in-the-courtroom-redux/

by Shaun Fluker

Case Commented On: Zoocheck Canada Inc v Alberta (Minister of Agriculture and Forestry), 2019 ABCA 208 (CanLII)

Lucy the Elephant lives at the Edmonton Valley Zoo and, for more than a decade, her advocates have been calling on government officials to facilitate her transfer to a warmer climate. She is a long-time resident at the Edmonton Zoo (since 1977), and zoo officials responsible for her well-being assert that Lucy is well-cared for at the zoo and that it is not in her best interest to be moved. Her advocates dispute this position, and there is a dedicated campaign for an independent scientific assessment of Lucy that would produce an expert veterinarian opinion on whether she can and/or should be moved. In addition to this battle of medical experts, Lucy’s advocates have appeared before Alberta courts seeking to use the force of law to get the Edmonton Zoo to acquiesce on the move of Lucy. They have been unsuccessful at each turn. The first set of proceedings was almost 10 years ago, and I commented on them in Lucy the Elephant v. Edmonton (City) and in The Elephant in the Courtroom. The focus of this comment is the more recent proceedings and, in particular, the Court of Appeal’s ruling that Lucy’s advocates do not have standing to engage in legal proceedings to challenge the renewal of a permit for the Edmonton Zoo.

There is an uncanny similarity between the earlier judicial proceedings in 2010/2011 and these more recent proceedings in 2017/2019, an observation that Professor Peter Sankoff also makes in his podcast discussion of this case. Zoocheck Canada advocated on behalf of Lucy in both sets of proceedings (along with several other applicants including Tove Reece, but for the purposes of this comment I will only refer to Zoocheck as the applicant). In both proceedings, the initial application was heard in chambers by Associate Chief Justice J.D. Rooke, who dismissed it in 2010 and again in 2017 on abuse of process and standing grounds. On appeal in both cases, Zoocheck was unsuccessful but managed to convince one member of the appellate bench to dissent on the standing determination (Chief Justice Catherine Fraser in 2011 and Mr. Justice Brian O’Ferrall in 2019). Accordingly, the dispute over Lucy’s well-being has never got past the preliminary stage in Alberta courts.

In 2010 Zoocheck sought a judicial declaration that the City of Edmonton (as operator of the Edmonton Zoo) was contravening section 2 of the Animal Protection Act, RSA 2000 c A-41, in its treatment of Lucy. Section 2 of the Animal Protection Act prohibits a person from causing an animal to be in distress. In Reece v Edmonton (City), 2010 ABQB 538 (CanLII) Justice Rooke granted the City’s motion to strike the Zoocheck application as an abuse of process. The problem for Zoocheck in these earlier proceedings is that the only legal proceeding contemplated in the Animal Protection Act is a regulatory prosecution which is commenced on the investigation of a peace officer. Accordingly, Justice Rooke characterized the Zoocheck application for a declaration as a colourable attempt to enforce the criminal law with a civil action (for my comments see Lucy the Elephant v. Edmonton (City)). In Reece v Edmonton (City), 2011 ABCA 238 (CanLII), the Court of Appeal upheld this decision (for my comments see The Elephant in the Courtroom). In obiter, both courts in 2010/2011 questioned the justiciability of what Zoocheck was trying to litigate and cast significant doubt on whether the law could provide a remedy to an elephant held in captivity.

In its 2017 application, Zoocheck sought judicial review of the decision by the Minister of Environment and Parks to renew the permit held by the Edmonton Zoo under section 13 of the Wildlife Act, RSA 2000, c W-10 and sections 76 to 79 of the Wildlife Regulation, Alta Reg 143/1997. Unlike the earlier proceedings, this application concerns the exercise of a statutory power and is comfortably within the scope of judicial review. Nonetheless, Justice Rooke also dismissed this application as an abuse of process and on the ground that Zoocheck did not have standing to commence the proceedings. The Court of Appeal unanimously reversed Justice Rooke on the abuse of process ground (at paras 47 – 49 and 63 – 68), but the majority of the court (the Majority Decision) affirmed his finding that Zoocheck does not have standing to seek judicial review of the zoo permit renewal. Justice O’Ferrall dissents on this point about standing (the Dissent).

What the standing determination means in lay terms is that Zoocheck does not have a sufficient interest in the matter to initiate legal proceedings. The policy reason for having a standing requirement generally is that judicial resources are scarce and the adversarial system is best served by litigants who are directly affected by the matter in question and thus are motivated to make the best arguments. In this case, since the Minister’s decision to renew the Edmonton Zoo permit is of no direct consequence to Zoocheck, the organization has no real stake in the outcome and should not be able to consume judicial resources to challenge the legality of the permit. Busybodies are not welcome in the courts. This would be the end of the matter, but for the doctrine of public interest standing.

In a series of decisions in the 1970s and 1980s, the Supreme Court of Canada developed a public interest exception to this traditional standing rule. The modern restatement of the test for public interest standing is in Canada (Attorney General) v Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society, 2012 SCC 45 (CanLII) (for some commentary on ABlawg see here). This exception enables a person, who would otherwise not have standing because their rights or interests are too remote or otherwise not directly affected by the decision of an official exercising legislative powers, to nonetheless be granted public interest standing to seek judicial review of the decision. The Supreme Court has emphasized the importance of granting public interest standing in appropriate cases to ensure that the exercise of state power conforms to statutory authority and that there is a practical and effective way to assess the legality of that power. The test for public interest standing involves a holistic consideration of three factors: (1) whether there is a serious justiciable issue raised by the claimant; (2) whether the claimant has a real stake or genuine interest in the matter; and (3) whether the claim represents a reasonable and effective way to bring the matter before the courts. While public interest standing does alleviate the limitations inherent in the traditional standing doctrine, it still remains an exception to the rule and is thus available only in the discretion of the court (Downtown Eastside Sex Workers at paras 26 – 38).

The Majority Decision affirms the ruling by Justice Rooke that Zoocheck failed to meet each of these factors in the public interest standing test.

Serious and Justiciable Issue

A key interpretation by the Majority Decision is that the serious and justiciable issue must be assessed in relation to exactly the question(s) raised by Zoocheck (at para 25). This creates a problem for Zoocheck because the majority goes on to find that the questions which Zoocheck seeks to place before the court are in relation to whether the Edmonton Zoo is compliant with animal protection legislation and the majority finds those questions are not within the scope of relevant considerations in a zoo permit renewal process under the Wildlife Act(Majority Decision at paras 22 – 37). The Majority Decision explains at some length how sections 76 to 79 of the Wildlife Regulation incorporate certain zoo standards into the permit renewal process for the Edmonton Zoo, but not all standards and in particular not standards in relation to animal care. In a theme familiar to that conveyed in all of the decisions made by Alberta courts in this legal saga, the Majority Decision identifies the regulatory scheme set out in the Animal Protection Act as the only legal mechanism which is available in Alberta to scrutinize whether the Edmonton Zoo is compliant with animal care rules:

As the chambers judge acknowledged, it may seem “counterintuitive” that zoo licensing provisions are not intended to function as animal protection legislation, but this is because the legislature has allocated responsibility for animals between the Animal Protection Actand the Wildlife Act. The Animal Protection Act, as would be expected from its name, focuses on ensuring that animals are protected. It contains provisions that prohibit anyone from causing distress to an animal (s 2), impose duties on person who own or are in charge of animals (s 2.1), provide powers to peace officers where animals are in distress (ss 3–5, 10), deal with humane societies (s 9) and provide that anyone who contravenes the Act or regulations is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of not more than $20,000 and an order restraining them from having custody of an animal for a specified period of time (s 12).

By contrast, the Wildlife Act is largely focused on regulating wildlife, including hunting and related activities, the transportation, possession, importation and exportation of wildlife, and related offences. Sections 76 and 78 of the Wildlife Regulation, which deal with zoo permits, deal primarily with the logistical considerations associated with obtaining or renewing a permit. (at paras 27, 28)

In summary, the majority finds the issues raised by Zoocheck concerning the well-being of Lucy at the Edmonton Zoo are not serious and justiciable issues in relation to the target of this judicial review application, which is the Minister’s renewal of the Edmonton Zoo permit.

In reading this portion of the Majority Decision (at paras 22 – 37), I was struck by how deeply the majority dives into this factor of the public interest test. The majority’s analysis really highlights the messy patchwork of legislative drafting in the Wildlife Regulation concerning exactly what legal rules govern the operation of zoos in Alberta. The majority also comes across as very dismissive of what otherwise seems to be an arguable point: that in a zoo permit renewal it is relevant to consider whether the applicant zoo is compliant with animal care legislation and protocols. Indeed, it does seem very ‘counterintuitive’ – as the majority itself explains – to hold otherwise. The Dissent makes this point by applying principles of statutory interpretation to demonstrate it is at least arguable that section 76 of the Wildlife Regulation incorporates considerations of whether the zoo is compliant with animal care legislation and protocols (Dissent at paras 76 – 88). This divide between the Majority Decision and the Dissent, on its own, suggests there is a justiciable issue here. Perhaps most troubling then with this aspect of the judgment is that the Majority Decision seems to be deciding a substantive question at what should be a preliminary stage in the proceedings. In other words, rather than simply asking whether Zoocheck is raising a serious and justiciable question about the interpretation of the Wildlife Regulation, the majority seems to have decided that Zoocheck should not have public interest standing because it will inevitably lose the judicial review application.

A Genuine Interest in the Matter 

The analysis provided by the Majority Decision under the first factor really decides this factor as well, and the majority provides only a couple paragraphs here (at paras 38, 39). Zoocheck does not have a genuine interest in whether the Edmonton Zoo permit is renewed, because its concern with the zoo permit is collateral to its true concern which is the well-being of Lucy and having her moved out of Edmonton. The Dissent takes issue with how the Majority Decision separates these two issues to marginalize and discount what is otherwise a well-established interest of Zoocheck in this matter (at paras 89-93).

A Reasonable and Effective Way to Bring the Matter Before the Courts

On this factor, the Majority Decision more or less adopts what the Court of Appeal ruled back in 2011 which is that the regulatory process under the Animal Protection Act is a more effective way of bringing the issue of Lucy’s well-being before the court. The majority recites the same two paragraphs from Reece v Edmonton (City), 2011 ABCA 238 (CanLII) which I also highlighted in The Elephant in the Courtroom, and those two paragraphs are as follows:

There are other more appropriate remedies available to the appellants. The Court was advised that after the decision of the chambers judge a further complaint was filed with the Edmonton Humane Society. A further investigation was conducted, following which it was decided not to lay any charges under the Animal Protection Act, although the Society indicated that its investigation “will remain open in order to follow up”.

The appellants argue that there is no other effective alternative way to bring this issue before the courts. Stating the issue in that way presupposes that this is a suitable issue for the courts. Whether the City is discharging its operational duties in the care of Lucy is a hotly contested issue. It is not appropriate to expect the courts to take over the animal husbandry of the animals at the City zoo through the ability to issue declarations on points of law. As mentioned, there are other public officials who have that responsibility, and other appropriate legal procedures to possibly engage if they fail to discharge their duties. Further, it is not the role of the superior courts to review every operational decision made by government, and the courts do not have the resources needed to deal with the volume of applications that could be generated if the procedure chosen by the appellants was endorsed. The role of the superior courts is limited to reviewing the legality of executive action, and does not extend to examining the policy choices made by the executive branch. There are established procedures for judicial review, which have many built in controls that reflect the constitutional relationship between the executive branch and the judicial branch. As the Court stated in Consolidated Maybrun Mines at para. 25, “… the rule of law does not imply that the procedures for achieving [executive review] can be disregarded, nor does it necessarily empower an individual to apply to whatever forum he or she wishes in order to enforce compliance with it.” (cited at para 40 in the Majority Decision)

This is really the essence of both the decision by Justice Rooke and the Majority Decision to deny public interest standing to Zoocheck: to the extent there is public concern for the well-being of Lucy, then it is a matter for statutory officials under the Animal Protection Act and/or the Attorney General to address and bring to the court’s attention if necessary. The overall message to Zoocheck here is once again that the only course of legal action concerning Lucy’s well-being is to complain under the Animal Protection Act and hope for an investigation that will lead to some form of order, whether administrative or on conviction by regulatory prosecution, which directs the Edmonton Zoo allow for an independent scientific review and/or acquiesce in Lucy’s transport to a warmer climate. It seems this path has already been travelled by Zoocheck, and it is really a hopeless suggestion by the Majority Decision given how unlikely it is that the Edmonton Zoo will ever face a prosecution on these allegations regarding Lucy (as pointed out by the Dissent at paras 98, 99). Moreover, the legislated penalty for an offence under the Animal Protection Act is merely a fine, and only a $20,000 maximum at that.

I have two additional problems with how the majority deals with this factor. First, as I stated back in The Elephant in the Courtroom, the court overstates the consequences of the Zoocheck application and the Majority Decision essentially commits a strawman fallacy because Zoocheck is not asking the court to operate the zoo, and this application does not ask the court to review every decision of government. The second problem with relying on this 2011 analysis, is that it is arguably no longer good law after the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in Downtown Eastside Sex Workers which revisited this third factor and, in particular, emphasized that the availability of another means by which to bring a matter before the court does not necessary negate public interest standing (Downtown Eastside Sex Workers at paras 44 – 51). Moreover, the Majority Decision seems to give insufficient regard to the role of public interest standing in ensuring that there is a practical and effective way to assess the legality of the exercise of statutory power (Downtown Eastside Sex Workers at paras 26 – 38)


This post may be cited as: Shaun Fluker, “The Elephant in the Courtroom Redux” (July 2, 2019), online: ABlawg, http://ablawg.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Blog_SCF_Zoocheck.pdf

Lonely Lucy now on daily pain meds. But elephant impasse might also be cracking

posted 1 Jul 2019, 17:11 by Rob Laidlaw   [ updated 4 Jul 2019, 07:10 ]

But of course, nothing with the Lucy story is ever simple

Edmonton Journal
Updated: June 26, 2019

Advocates with ZooCheck say Lucy the lonely elephant is now suffering so badly from joint and foot pain she’s on twice daily doses of pain medication and might not live out the year.

City officials disagree, but it’s the first time the international wildlife protection charity has been so pessimistic.

The group is now warning supporters that, even if it finally secures an independent medical assessment of Edmonton’s heaviest and most controversial mammal, Lucy likely won’t be able to travel. The dream of sending her to an elephant sanctuary is slipping out of reach.

“She’s in a palliative state,” said ZooCheck campaign manager Julie Woodyer on Tuesday, after posting the news to Facebook. “Her medical condition is worse. She’s now on a daily dose of (Tramadol) … perhaps won’t make it to the end of the year.”

But of course, nothing with the Lucy story is ever simple.

While ZooCheck is getting this from their annual review of the medical reports, city officials still say there’s no threat to Lucy’s life at all — just a respiratory condition that prevents her from being transported.

They say she’s getting twice a day doses of pain medication since 2016.

Once again, Edmonton residents are left in doubt and uncertainty. Who to believe? It’s more than a public relations nightmare.

But stay with me. Maybe, just maybe this is also a window for change.

There hasn’t been an easy answer for poor Lucy for years. In 1977, the Asian elephant came to Edmonton as a two-year-old orphan and bonded with her human caregivers more than other elephants. Her health has been poor. She’s obese and has arthritis, likely from walking in the cold and on hard surfaces, living in a small enclosure when she can’t go outside.

ZooCheck and other animal rights activists have been lobbying for the 43-year-old elephant to be sent to a wildlife sanctuary for more than a decade. Elephants are simply too social, intelligent and emotionally complex to be kept alone, especially this far north, and a sanctuary would have the space and expertise to care for her better.

But each time this comes up, city officials say Lucy’s respiratory condition, a blockage in her trunk, prevents her from being transported. Then ZooCheck accuses them of hiring an expert biased toward keeping the charismatic animal at the Edmonton Valley Zoo. City officials worry any expert ZooCheck recommends would bring the opposite bias.

It’s an impasse. But now we have a crack. We have both parties questioning if she’s able to move.

And there’s another player here. It’s not just global activists worried about Lucy. A home-grown coalition — Lucy’s Edmonton Advocates’ Project (LEAP) — has been building bridges with a new zoo administration.

Valley Zoo director Lindsey Galloway, on the job since April, met recently with LEAP president Mary-Ann Holm, which in itself was a first for any zoo official, Holm said. They agreed to work collaboratively to see if there are elephant experts they both have confidence in, and what sanctuary might be appropriate if Lucy is well enough to travel.

Galloway also told me about this meeting, and said he’s interested in getting a “fresh” perspective on Lucy’s health. He won’t limit his expert search to LEAP’s suggestions, but he’ll take them into account, he said.

If, after a full review this fall, it’s clear to both parties that Lucy should stay and age in place, Galloway says he’d appreciate LEAP’s ongoing involvement. Because then the zoo will need to seriously consider what a supportive local elephant seniors home should look like.

Holm seemed unsure about ZooCheck’s new doom and gloom. LEAP volunteers haven’t seen an obvious decrease in Lucy’s health, just the painful gait that grows slowly worse each year, she said. She urged people to “stay hopeful.”

If Lucy does have to stay, LEAP already has a suggestion. “Getting her a pool would be like hydro-therapy,” says Holm, sharing stories of how transformational that’s been at the elephant sanctuary in Thailand, where she volunteers. Getting a nice elephant Jacuzzi would take the weight off Lucy’s joints and finally let her swim.

I’m encouraged. I still don’t know what to believe about Lucy’s health but I do know cities can’t make a controversy go away by closing the door. If this meeting between the zoo and local advocates grows into a relationship of trust, that will be more progress than Edmonton has seen in years.


https://edmontonjournal.com/opinion/columnists/elise-stolte-lonely-lucy-now-on-daily-pain-meds-but-elephant-impasse-might-also-be-cracking

Update on Lucy - June 24, 2019

posted 1 Jul 2019, 17:10 by Rob Laidlaw   [ updated 4 Jul 2019, 07:11 ]

Zoocheck and Voice 4 Animals have been engaged in a campaign, including several legal actions, to have Lucy moved to a more suitable, healthy, environment since 2006. However, for more than 13 years, the Edmonton Valley Zoo engaged in one stall tactic after another claiming they were not opposed to moving her but saying it was not possible because she was too sick to be moved. Throughout those years the zoo refused to allow a truly independent assessment of her health by a qualified team of specialist veterinarians, even when it was offered to them at no cost. The groups repeatedly warned the zoo and Edmonton City Council that stalling would only allow her condition to worsen and some day it would be too late to move Lucy. We fear that day has now come.

We recently obtained copies of Lucy’s medical records via Freedom of Information from the past year and had them reviewed by a globally respected, independent veterinarian with extensive elephant experience. The records indicate that Lucy’s health has gotten significantly worse and indicates she is likely nearing the end of her sad, lonely life.

The zoo’s medical records for Lucy reveal that she is now, for all intents and purposes, being kept alive on medication the way a palliative care patient is treated. This likely means that it could be too late to move her safely. Since we filed our last legal action Lucy has been put on a daily dose of opioids to manage her pain caused by foot and joint problems which developed from living in Edmonton’s cold climate on hard substrates for most of her life. She is also now suffering from painful stomach issues which are commonly associated with taking the opiod drugs. However, without the opiods, it is unlikely that Lucy would be able to stand up on her own after she lays down and would die as a result. This means that the zoo is medicating her with a cocktail of drugs to keep her alive.

When Zoocheck and Voice 4 Animals first began advocating for Lucy over a decade ago, the groups warned the city council that the conditions at the zoo had caused her health issues and would only worsen over time, but they ignored the warnings and her health gradually deteriorated.

We still support and are pursuing a full assessment of Lucy. Even if a team of independent experts confirms that it is now too late to safely move her there are other things the zoo may be able to do to improve her life, the least of which would be to come into compliance with the zoo standards they continue to violate. We are truly broken-hearted by this news as we know many of you are too. We felt it was unfair to everyone to not share the truth about her severely declining health. Even still, we will never give up trying to help her no matter what happens.

We also need to ensure that this never happens again in Canada.Therefore, Zoocheck and Voice 4 Animals intend to move forward with their appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada because the decision not to give legal standing to the two animal groups in the previous cases regarding Lucy is a dangerous precedent that potentially could impact every animal, both wild and domesticated, across the country. We hope to have more news by the end of the summer.

Advocates for Lucy the elephant fail to convince courts to review her confinement conditions at Edmonton Zoo

posted 28 Jun 2019, 20:25 by Rob Laidlaw   [ updated 4 Jul 2019, 07:11 ]

Tyler Dawson, National Post

May 29, 2019

For years, activists have been trying to get Lucy, the lone elephant at the Edmonton Valley Zoo, relocated to warmer climes, claiming she’s unwell and lonely — but the latest legal effort by animal rights groups to force the courts to review the conditions of her confinement has failed.

This case is a complicated one, said Peter Sankoff, a University of Alberta legal professor and expert in animal rights law, and is ripe for an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, because it raises the issue of how humans are supposed to stick up for animals if courts don’t give them the chance to do so.

“What the applicants are saying here is that Lucy’s interests are very much impacted, but no one’s allowed to go to court on her behalf,” Sankoff said. “That’s what the issue really is in this case and that’s the issue I think the Supreme Court needs to consider.”

Lucy, who came to the zoo in May 1977 and is 42 years old, has attracted high-profile advocates over the years, including Bob Barker, the former host of The Price is Right and Edmonton Oilers enforcer Georges Laraque; each offered to give the city $100,000 if Lucy was moved. Even the Jackass star Steve-O called for her to be moved to a sanctuary when he was in Edmonton for a comedy show in 2011.

Those who say Lucy should stay have argued that any move could kill her, especially because of a respiratory condition that’s exacerbated by stress.

Zoocheck Canada, the appellant, argued the Edmonton zoo was violating zoo standards and that as a result, the province should not have renewed its permit. That would have forced the zoo into compliance, which could have led to Lucy being moved to a different location, said Julie Woodyer, campaigns director with Zoocheck Canada. Lawyers for the province and the city (which owns the zoo) argued the decision to get a licence had nothing to do with where and how Lucy lives.

In this instance, the majority on the Alberta Court of Appeals stuck to an “orthodox” line, Sankoff said, considering only whether Zoocheck Canada had the ability to ask the courts to review the Alberta agriculture and forestry minister’s renewal of the Edmonton Valley Zoo’s licence.

The court concluded they did not have the legal ability to do so, agreeing with the lower court judge’s ruling from 2017 that “the appellants had not demonstrated they had a real stake or genuine interest in the matter they seek to judicially review — the renewal of the Zoo’s permit,” wrote the Alberta Court of Appeal.

“The appellants’ real concern is Lucy’s well-being.”

The appeals court ruled the decision to grant a zoo licence falls under the Wildlife Act, which, the courts said, is not an animal protections law — those are spelled out in the Animal Protections Act.

The judge in the lower court ruling noted this is “counterintuitive” but that “there are other mechanisms that bear upon the treatment of zoo animals like Lucy.” To ask the court to find the zoo had breached animal protections laws would be “premature,” the appeals court concluded, since “no proceedings have been commenced against the zoo under (the Animal Protections Act) by the responsible authorities.”

But in a strongly worded dissent, which Sankoff characterized as “a big deal,” Justice Brian K. O’Ferrall argued: “If animals are to be protected in any meaningful way, they, or their advocates, must be accorded some form of legal standing.”

Woodyer said the ruling sets a “very dangerous precedent” for animals, or even rivers, that cannot launch their own legal challenges.

“It will not just harm this case for Lucy but any cases anyone brings forward for an environmental issue, an animal issue, any time someone doesn’t have a personal interest,” Woodyer said in an interview Tuesday. “It’s not even just about Lucy anymore, it’s about any animal.”

The suit Zoocheck filed in 2017 builds on an earlier case from 2011 involving Lucy, in which Zoocheck, among others, asked the courts to declare her in distress, in violation of the Animal Protections Act, which in turn would’ve forced the zoo into action. The court at the time said they had not used the proper legal channels in that suit; an appellate court concluded the same.

So Zoocheck tried a second legal avenue — the zoo licence route. Arguments were heard in March 2018, and the court released its decision last week. Zoocheck is considering an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, said Woodyer. The Post reached out to the province for comment, but it was unable to meet the Post’s deadline.

“There continues to be a very determined group that are interested in Lucy’s future and … we have a shared concern for doing what’s best for her,” said Lindsey Galloway, the zoo director. “If something in her condition changes then there’s something to talk about, but as long as her health is at risk, our obligation is to take really good care of her here in the zoo. And that’s what we’re doing.”

https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/lucy-the-elephant

Elise Stolte: Lonely Lucy now on daily pain meds. But elephant impasse might also be cracking

posted 28 Jun 2019, 20:07 by Rob Laidlaw

But of course, nothing with the Lucy story is ever simple.

Edmonton Journal
Updated: June 26, 2019

Advocates with ZooCheck say Lucy the lonely elephant is now suffering so badly from joint and foot pain she’s on twice daily doses of pain medication and might not live out the year.

City officials disagree, but it’s the first time the international wildlife protection charity has been so pessimistic.

The group is now warning supporters that, even if it finally secures an independent medical assessment of Edmonton’s heaviest and most controversial mammal, Lucy likely won’t be able to travel. The dream of sending her to an elephant sanctuary is slipping out of reach.

“She’s in a palliative state,” said ZooCheck campaign manager Julie Woodyer on Tuesday, after posting the news to Facebook. “Her medical condition is worse. She’s now on a daily dose of (Tramadol) … perhaps won’t make it to the end of the year.”

But of course, nothing with the Lucy story is ever simple.

While ZooCheck is getting this from their annual review of the medical reports, city officials still say there’s no threat to Lucy’s life at all — just a respiratory condition that prevents her from being transported.

They say she’s getting twice a day doses of pain medication since 2016.

Once again, Edmonton residents are left in doubt and uncertainty. Who to believe? It’s more than a public relations nightmare.

But stay with me. Maybe, just maybe this is also a window for change.

There hasn’t been an easy answer for poor Lucy for years. In 1977, the Asian elephant came to Edmonton as a two-year-old orphan and bonded with her human caregivers more than other elephants. Her health has been poor. She’s obese and has arthritis, likely from walking in the cold and on hard surfaces, living in a small enclosure when she can’t go outside.

ZooCheck and other animal rights activists have been lobbying for the 43-year-old elephant to be sent to a wildlife sanctuary for more than a decade. Elephants are simply too social, intelligent and emotionally complex to be kept alone, especially this far north, and a sanctuary would have the space and expertise to care for her better.

But each time this comes up, city officials say Lucy’s respiratory condition, a blockage in her trunk, prevents her from being transported. Then ZooCheck accuses them of hiring an expert biased toward keeping the charismatic animal at the Edmonton Valley Zoo. City officials worry any expert ZooCheck recommends would bring the opposite bias.

It’s an impasse. But now we have a crack. We have both parties questioning if she’s able to move.

And there’s another player here. It’s not just global activists worried about Lucy. A home-grown coalition — Lucy’s Edmonton Advocates’ Project (LEAP) — has been building bridges with a new zoo administration.

Valley Zoo director Lindsey Galloway, on the job since April, met recently with LEAP president Mary-Ann Holm, which in itself was a first for any zoo official, Holm said. They agreed to work collaboratively to see if there are elephant experts they both have confidence in, and what sanctuary might be appropriate if Lucy is well enough to travel.

Galloway also told me about this meeting, and said he’s interested in getting a “fresh” perspective on Lucy’s health. He won’t limit his expert search to LEAP’s suggestions, but he’ll take them into account, he said.

If, after a full review this fall, it’s clear to both parties that Lucy should stay and age in place, Galloway says he’d appreciate LEAP’s ongoing involvement. Because then the zoo will need to seriously consider what a supportive local elephant seniors home should look like.

Holm seemed unsure about ZooCheck’s new doom and gloom. LEAP volunteers haven’t seen an obvious decrease in Lucy’s health, just the painful gait that grows slowly worse each year, she said. She urged people to “stay hopeful.”

If Lucy does have to stay, LEAP already has a suggestion. “Getting her a pool would be like hydro-therapy,” says Holm, sharing stories of how transformational that’s been at the elephant sanctuary in Thailand, where she volunteers. Getting a nice elephant Jacuzzi would take the weight off Lucy’s joints and finally let her swim.

I’m encouraged. I still don’t know what to believe about Lucy’s health but I do know cities can’t make a controversy go away by closing the door. If this meeting between the zoo and local advocates grows into a relationship of trust, that will be more progress than Edmonton has seen in years.


https://edmontonjournal.com/opinion/columnists/elise-stolte-lonely-lucy-now-on-daily-pain-meds-but-elephant-impasse-might-also-be-cracking


Lucy Update June 24, 2019

posted 28 Jun 2019, 19:59 by Rob Laidlaw

Zoocheck and Voice 4 Animals have been engaged in a campaign, including several legal actions, to have Lucy moved to a more suitable, healthy, environment since 2006. However, for more than 13 years, the Edmonton Valley Zoo engaged in one stall tactic after another claiming they were not opposed to moving her but saying it was not possible because she was too sick to be moved. Throughout those years the zoo refused to allow a truly independent assessment of her health by a qualified team of specialist veterinarians, even when it was offered to them at no cost. The groups repeatedly warned the zoo and Edmonton City Council that stalling would only allow her condition to worsen and some day it would be too late to move Lucy. We fear that day has now come.

We recently obtained copies of Lucy’s medical records via Freedom of Information from the past year and had them reviewed by a globally respected, independent veterinarian with extensive elephant experience. The records indicate that Lucy’s health has gotten significantly worse and indicates she is likely nearing the end of her sad, lonely life.

The zoo’s medical records for Lucy reveal that she is now, for all intents and purposes, being kept alive on medication the way a palliative care patient is treated. This likely means that it could be too late to move her safely. Since we filed our last legal action Lucy has been put on a daily dose of opioids to manage her pain caused by foot and joint problems which developed from living in Edmonton’s cold climate on hard substrates for most of her life. She is also now suffering from painful stomach issues which are commonly associated with taking the opiod drugs. However, without the opiods, it is unlikely that Lucy would be able to stand up on her own after she lays down and would die as a result. This means that the zoo is medicating her with a cocktail of drugs to keep her alive.

When Zoocheck and Voice 4 Animals first began advocating for Lucy over a decade ago, the groups warned the city council that the conditions at the zoo had caused her health issues and would only worsen over time, but they ignored the warnings and her health gradually deteriorated.

We still support and are pursuing a full assessment of Lucy. Even if a team of independent experts confirms that it is now too late to safely move her there are other things the zoo may be able to do to improve her life, the least of which would be to come into compliance with the zoo standards they continue to violate. We are truly broken-hearted by this news as we know many of you are too. We felt it was unfair to everyone to not share the truth about her severely declining health. Even still, we will never give up trying to help her no matter what happens.

We also need to ensure that this never happens again in Canada.Therefore, Zoocheck and Voice 4 Animals intend to move forward with their appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada because the decision not to give legal standing to the two animal groups in the previous cases regarding Lucy is a dangerous precedent that potentially could impact every animal, both wild and domesticated, across the country. We hope to have more news by the end of the summer.

New Legal Action to Relieve Lucy's Distress

posted 6 Sep 2016, 16:37 by Rob Laidlaw   [ updated 4 Jul 2019, 07:24 ]

For Immediate Release September 6, 2016

Zoocheck & Voice for Animals Launch

New Legal Action to Relieve Lucy’s Distress

In the ongoing battle to have zoo standards enforced in Alberta to protect Lucy, the lone elephant at the Edmonton Valley Zoo, Zoocheck and Voice for Animals has filed an Originating Application for Judicial Review. We strongly oppose the government of Alberta’s decision to renew the Valley Zoo’s permit since they have failed to comply with the zoo standards for many years.

“Alberta’s Zoo Standards require that animals be kept in appropriate social groups and that the enclosures meet the animals’ basic needs. This is not being done for Lucy,” reported Julie Woodyer, Campaigns Director for Zoocheck. “We advocated for many years to get the Alberta Zoo Standards enacted, and although among the best in Canada, we now want to ensure they are enforced.”

“Lucy’s circumstances are inadequate in so many ways and most importantly they fail to comply with Alberta’s Zoo Standards. The Zoo Standards were enacted to protect captive animals in Alberta and, therefore, must be enforced.” Tove Reece, Executive Director, Voice for Animals.

Several affidavits have been submitted with the originating application with evidence to support the assertion by Zoocheck and Voice for Animals that the Ministry of Environment and Parks has failed to meet their duty to ensure that the Valley Zoo is in compliance with the Zoo Standards prior to issuing a zoo permit.

Affidavit of Julie Woodyer 2016

Ensley report 2016

Affidavit Dr. Lindsay

Keith Lindsay 2010 Affidavit

Affidavit T. Reece

 

Information:

Julie Woodyer, Zoocheck

1-888-801-3222 (toll free)

Cell #: 416-451-5976


Tove Reece, Voice 4 Animals

Cell #: 780-918-5385 or 780-922-4176

Email: info@v4a.org

Now available - Elephant Resource Guide

posted 24 Aug 2015, 08:13 by Rob Laidlaw   [ updated 24 Aug 2015, 08:17 ]

An updated version of Take Action for Elephants for teachers is now available. Download from

THIS LINK.

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