Judge Rooke did not rule on the merits of the case—he simply decided that the groups must use other means to raise these issues. The judge’s ruling today demonstrates what little legal protection exists for animals who are kept in grossly substandard conditions and offers a road map to compel the authorities to do their jobs and protect this elephant from future harm.
Judge Rooke points out that it should be possible to rely on local law enforcement to order Lucy moved and to charge the zoo with cruelty, but so far that hasn’t happened. The ruling in no way vindicates the city—the judge has simply commented on a matter of procedure. We fully intend to pursue other legal action, and we again call on law enforcement to recognize that it is dereliction of duty to allow Lucy to continue to suffer from arthritis, chronic foot ailments, obesity, and upper respiratory problems—all of which are the result of the substandard conditions at the Valley Zoo.
These conditions are made worse by the region’s frigid climate, which is ill-suited to an Asian elephant. Lucy has also been alone for almost three years, spends most of her time in a small barn, and exhibits behavior that indicates severe psychological distress. The only long-term solution for Lucy—one that must be immediately implemented—is to finally allow her to move to a warmer climate at a sanctuary where she can be in the company of other elephants. We hope that she will live to see that day.
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