In Defense of Animals (IDA), an international animal protection organization, released today its list of the Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants for 2013. This marks IDA’s ten-year anniversary of exposing the suffering endured by elephants in zoos. “Ten years should have been enough, but as long as zoos continue to house elephants in substandard exhibits that sacrifice the animals’ welfare, IDA will continue to call out the worst offenders,” said Nicole Meyer, Director of IDA’s Elephant Protection Campaign. “It’s high time for the zoo industry to stop paying lip service and start taking meaningful action to improve conditions for the hundreds of elephants languishing—and dying prematurely—in zoos across North America.”
IDA’s list illustrates how the zoo industry routinely ignores the needs of elephants in zoos through reckless breeding; housing them in unnatural social groupings in inadequate exhibits and cold climates; using outdated, harmful management techniques; and relying on conservation as a justification for keeping elephants in captivity when wild elephants are being slaughtered to near-extinction.
The Toronto Zoo’s appearance on IDA’s 2009 list sparked a campaign that led to the closure of that exhibit in 2013 with three elephants retired to a sanctuary. This brings the number of zoos that have closed, or will close, their elephant exhibits to 26. While zoos and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the accrediting trade organization, are finally starting to acknowledge what IDA has asserted for years—that elephants need space and appropriate social groupings in order to thrive—the zoo industry continues to drag its feet by allowing countless elephants to suffer.
1. San Antonio (San Antonio, Texas)—One (Un)Lucky Elephant
2. Edmonton Valley Zoo (Edmonton, Canada)—Can You Hear Me Now?
3. Little Rock Zoo (Little Rock, AR)—Where Elephants Go to Die
4. Buttonwood Park Zoo (New Bedford, MA)—All Talk, No Action
5. Bronx Zoo (Bronx, NY)—Conservation Abroad but Cruelty at Home
6. Saint Louis Zoo (St. Louis, MO)—Nothing to Look Forward to
7. Woodland Park Zoo (Seattle, WA)—The Fox Guarding the Hen House
8. Oregon Zoo (Portland, OR)—No Relief in Sight
9. Wildlife Safari (Winston, OR)—Where “Conservation” Meets Exploitation
10. Denver Zoo (Denver, CO)—What a Load of Bull
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