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Yet another zoo group says elephants shouldn't be alone (June 18, 2009)

posted 26 Aug 2010, 10:29 by Bhavithra Aloysious

Zoocheck Canada

For Immediate Release


June 18, 2009


Industry leaders recommend minimum 3 elephants


Elephants like Lucy, the lone Asian elephant at the Edmonton Valley Zoo, should be in the company of other elephants, according to recommendations from a recent meeting by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association’s Elephant Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) in Pittsburgh.


Twenty-four elephant experts from across North America met at the Pittsburgh Zoo in May to discuss elephants in captivity and the wild. They highlighted the Pittsburgh Zoo’s decision to keep a 7-member, mixed age herd and said that the zoo’s family-style unit was a model that all other zoos should strive for.


The Elephant TAG suggested that elephants have evolved to be highly social animals and that they should be kept in a minimum group size of three. “It’s how they live in the wild”, says Rob Laidlaw, a captive wildlife expert and spokesperson for Zoocheck Canada.


The Valley Zoo has been under intense criticism for their decision to keep Lucy alone in their bleak elephant facility. “Now, yet another group is saying that elephants should not be kept alone. We hope this recent recommendation by the Elephant TAG will convince the Valley Zoo that Lucy’s current  situation is not the best one for her”, says Woodyer. “Lucy should be allowed to go to a facility where she can enjoy room to roam and interact with other elephants.”


Currently, two world-class sanctuaries have offered Lucy a permanent home in their huge, naturalistic enclosures with other elephants and they are willing to cover the costs of her transfer. The Valley Zoo has so far refused both offers.


The Elephant TAG recommendation follows those of other groups:


  • The American Zoo and Aquarium Association recommends that zoos should make every effort to maintain elephants in social groupings and allow opportunities for appropriate social interaction. They state that it is inappropriate to keep highly social female elephants singly and that institutions should strive to hold no less than three female elephants whenever possible
  • The Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums recommends that zoos should make every effort possible to keep elephants in social groupings
  • The Coalition for Captive Elephant Well-Being suggests that in captivity, Asian elephants should be kept in a minimum grouping of five
  • The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Management Guidelines for the Welfare of Elephants says that elephants are one of the most social mammals and that zoos MUST maintain elephants in as appropriate a social group as possible. In addition, they specify that zoos MUST establish stable female groups, and they MUST strive to keep a minimum group size of four compatible cows older than two years
  • The Elephant Mangers Association says that elephants should have access to other elephants and females should not be housed alone


Zoocheck Canada is a national animal protection charity (#13150 2072 RR 0001) established in 1984 to promote and protect the interests and well-being of wild animals.


For further information:    Zoocheck Canada  416.285.1744