What the Valley Zoo Says

Lucy has bonded with her keepers

In normal elephant societies, female elephants are in constant 24 hour a day social contact with family members. This social contact cannot be reproduced in a zoo environment. Keepers are nothing like a real family or herd.

Think about it. Keepers at the Valley Zoo go home at the end of the day. And when they do, Lucy is left alone in her spartan indoor facility, until the next morning. Elephant families don’t disband in the evening and then reassemble the next morning. They're together all the time. Lucy’s keepers are nothing at all like a real elephant family.

The zoo is all Lucy has ever known

It's true that the elephant yard and barn at the Valley Zoo is probably all Lucy has ever known, but that’s probably the best reason for moving her elsewhere.

Denying Lucy a better life just because she’s only known the Valley Zoo doesn’t make sense. In fact, it's a terrible reason to keep her there.

Lucy is not a social elephant

The Valley Zoo claims Lucy isn't a social elephant, but there's no such thing. Science shows us that all female elephants are highly social. Lucy spent many years in the company of Samantha, the African elephant she shared her enclosure with at the zoo. If she could live with an elephant of another species, there is no reason to believe she wouldn't do well with members of her own species.

Numerous experts have scoffed at the Valley Zoo's claim that Lucy is not social or that she is a "people elephant." Dr. Joyce Poole, one of the world's leading elephant biologists, called that claim ridiculous. She said elephants are so intensely social that when they are denied access to members of their own species, they will try to socialize and create bonds with whoever else is there because that's all they have. But relationships with people are nothing like the complex, rich and stimulating relationships that elephants have with each other.

Before Maggie the elephant was moved from the Alaska Zoo, they also claimed she didn't need company. But when she was moved to a sanctuary in California, it didn't take long before Maggie was interacting and bonding with the other elephants at the facility.

Medical conditions prevent Lucy from being moved

The Valley Zoo claims that, except for her respiratory problem and arthritis, Lucy is healthy. At the same time, they also say moving Lucy would be stressful and might kill her. But they haven't produced any proof that what they are saying is true.

What is clear is that the Valley Zoo has not been able to resolve Lucy's decades of ongoing health problems. And, with each passing year, those problems only worsen. Her living conditions, lack of activity, and the frustration and stress of living alone have all taken their toll and with Lucy now being in her mid-40s, time for her is rapidly running out.

Today, Lucy's phantom respiratory issue remains undiagnosed and a recent examination of her medical records indicate that the zoo is struggling to manage her pain despite Lucy being on high daily doses of opioids, noting she went down on two occasions in Oct 2018.  Time may be running out for Lucy, so it's a matter of urgency that the zoo allow in a team of qualified, independent experts (with a track history in elephant biology, behaviour, veterinary care, management and welfare) to assess and treat her, to offer a prognosis and to make recommendations about the best options for Lucy at this stage.

Can Lucy be moved? Would the potential benefits to Lucy outweigh the risks of transporting her? The first step in answering those questions is the expert assessment.