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Edmonton's Valley Zoo makes activist group's 10 worst list for elephant issues (January 18, 2011)

posted 19 Jan 2011, 13:45 by Rob Laidlaw   [ updated 19 Jan 2011, 13:59 ]
By: Canadian Press

Edmonton's Valley Zoo has taken second place on an American animal rights organization's list of the 10 worst zoos for elephants. In Defence of Animals cites the zoos on the list for lack of space, unsuitably cold climates and impoverished social groupings.
The Valley Zoo has come under criticism from a wide range of animal rights activists over living conditions for Lucy. The 35-year-old elephant has lived alone at the zoo since its only other elephant, Samantha, was sold to a breeding program three years ago.
Lucy has been the subject of a legal battle between the city, which argues that moving her would probably kill her, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Zoocheck, who want her moved to a sanctuary in the U.S. The fight to move Lucy has been backed by retired game show host Bob Barker, actor William Shatner and former NHL hockey player Georges Laraque.
PETA has argued that elephants are highly social animals and Lucy is lonely, suffers from respiratory problems and arthritis from the cold and snowy winters in Edmonton.
The city has countered that Lucy is well-cared for and has a social network in the keepers she has known for so many years.
In Defence of Animals director Catherine Doyle says caging elephants in urban zoo displays is not humane and does not constitute conservation. "You can protect 50 elephants in Kenya for the cost of holding one elephant in a zoo for one year," says Doyle. "Zoos are wasting scarce conservation dollars even as elephants are heading toward extinction."
The Valley Zoo was the only Canadian facility on the list. The others were zoos in Texas, Massachussets, Pennsylvania, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Hawaii, Oregon and Maine.
In Defence of Animals did cite the Dallas Zoo in Texas for improvements in elephant welfare and policies that help elephants in need.