By: Zoocheck Canada
Yesterday the City of Edmonton issued a media release about a directive they received from the Edmonton Humane Society (EHS) regarding Lucy the elephant. The directive was the result of an EHS investigation they conducted after receiving a voluminous complaint from Zoocheck Canada. Click here to view the EHS letter. Details about how the EHS conducted their investigation have not been made public.
According to Julie Woodyer of Zoocheck Canada, "The City of Edmonton and the zoo have tried to put as much positive spin on the humane society directive as they could. But the fact remains that the Edmonton Humane Society felt compelled to issue a written directive to the zoo telling them they must relieve Lucy’s distress and they gave certain timelines. They also indicated that they felt Lucy's conditions were not ideal. The EHS seems to be treading softly on this, perhaps because they are investigating the City of Edmonton who provides them with significant funding which puts them in a conflict of interest position, but their directive is telling regardless."
Woodyer goes on, “The EHS said they felt the zoo was in compliance with the Alberta Animal Protection Act, but, so far, no one has mentioned anything about the Alberta Zoo Standards which the EHS is also charged with enforcing. It's clear the Valley Zoo is in violation of provincial standards, especially regarding Lucy's social isolation. It's unfortunate the EHS isn't providing direct comment on this issue. But in the end, the fact that the zoo received the EHS directive at all is an acknowledgement that something is wrong and that Lucy is in distress."
The City of Edmonton mentioned three of the EHS recommendations in their media release: that Lucy be exercised in winter; that her respiratory issue be diagnosed and treated; and that her weight problem be managed. These are all longstanding problems, some going back many years, that the zoo has been unable to address.
In September 2009 the Valley Zoo was told by their own consultant veterinarian that Lucy should lose 1,000 lbs within 12 months. At that time Lucy weighed 9,140 lbs. More than a year later the zoo’s records indicate that Lucy had not lost any weight. The zoo’s own veterinarian admits that Lucy has had a respiratory distress for 7 years, but they have still not been able to properly diagnose or treat it. The zoo’s failure to address and cure Lucy is largely based on the fact that her surroundings are inadequate. To date the zoo has refused to allow independent veterinary experts access to examine or treat Lucy.
“No matter how the City spins the humane society directive, we are pleased the zoo has been told they must diagnose and treat Lucy. The zoo's response letter to the EHS says nothing new, they plan on continuing to use veterinarian James Oosterhuis, the veterinarian with the dubious distinction of defending some very abusive elephant management practices, and moving forward in pretty much the same way they have. That means Lucy could be dead in a year or she could continue suffering for a few more years, although if history is an indicator that probably won't be too many if something doesn't change soon,” concluded Woodyer.
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