Zoocheck Canada/Voice for Animals
For Immediate Release
June 12, 2007
The Valley Zoo announced yesterday that they will be sending Samantha to a US zoo on a breeding loan, leaving Lucy alone at the Valley Zoo for the next five years. The zoo also indicated that they are planning to separate Samantha from her baby at the extremely young age of 3 years.
Earlier this year, Zoocheck Canada released a report on the state of captive elephants in Canada that found Lucy and Samantha to be in the worst situation in the country. Recently the Alaska Zoo joined numerous other large accredited zoos in the US and Canada by deciding to send Maggie, an African elephant that has been living alone at the facility for a number of years and suffering both physically and psychologically, to live in a warmer, more appropriate facility. The decision by the Valley Zoo to leave Lucy alone in what will now be the most northern elephant exhibit in North America has outraged elephant advocates and is expected to draw tremendous controversy to the City of Edmonton.
In response to the zoo’s announcement, Julie Woodyer, Campaigns Director for Zoocheck Canada said “Lucy is only 32 year old and has already been suffering from arthritis and foot infections (the leading cause of death in captive elephants) for many years due to the lack of space and cold climate. If her physical plight were not bad enough, now the Valley Zoo has decided to keep this highly social animal in what equates to solitary confinement. This decision is outright cruel!”
In April, Zoocheck Canada and Voice for Animals conducted a two day behavioural study of both Lucy and Samantha and found that Lucy is already spending the vast majority of her time standing stationary with little motivation to move or interact with her environment. In the wild, elephants spend the vast majority of their day socializing and walking. It is well documented that when elephants are forced in socially isolated situations, they suffer psychologically. Human company does little if anything to alleviate this suffering. For this reason even the American Zoo and Aquarium Association has indicated that elephants should never be housed alone.
Tove Reece, spokesperson for Voice for Animals said yesterday, “Asian elephants live 60 – 70 years in the wild and yet the Valley Zoo staff are already referring to Lucy as elderly. While elephant lifespans are significantly reduced in captivity, Lucy could still live a long life if she were moved to an environment where she could be with other elephants and could walk long distances each day.”
Zoocheck Canada and Voice for Animals have been advocating for Lucy to be moved to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, where the elephants have 2700 acres to move about freely in the company of other elephants and are never confined, bred or forced to do any activities that they do not wish to do. “We hope that this recent decision will result in the public urging the Edmonton City Council to agree to send Lucy to a sanctuary and close the Valley Zoo’s elephant exhibit for good,” added Woodyer.
For more information:
Julie Woodyer: 1-888-801-3222 (toll free), 416-451-5976 (cell)
Tove Reece: 780-922-4176 or 780-918-5385
Zoocheck’s report The Sad State of Captive Elephants in Canada can be viewed at:
A report by the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals can be viewed by searching “zoo elephants” on their site: www.rspca.org.uk
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