By Liisa Budge-Johnson [Letter to Editor\
So when is enough, enough? At what point does the administration at the Buttonwood Park Zoo admit that they have not the space, expertise nor staff to adequately care for their two elephants, Ruth and Emily?
It wasn't enough when In Defense of Animals named the zoo the fifth worst zoo for elephants in the country. It wasn't enough when Emily bit off 6 inches of Ruth's tail in an act of aggression common in un-related elephants forced to live in a confined space together. And it doesn't appear to be enough now that staff incompetence has led to Ruth developing frostbite after being exposed to the extreme New England cold.
At what point will the zoo officials (and the city of New Bedford) look past the almighty dollar and do what is morally correct, and retire these beautiful pachyderms to an approved sanctuary? Zoo administrations have argued for years that the New England climate is fine for elephants. This latest disaster shows the dangers that face Ruth and Emily when they are not cared for properly.
Elephants, despite their enormous size, do not have a layer of body fat. Shame on officials for not doing what is best for the elephants. These girls have done their time. They have entertained the local population without ever having been given the choice. What visitors to the zoo fail to understand is that what they are seeing are not wild elephants. They are elephants forced to conform to what we allow them to do.
In the wild, elephants walk for miles each day and forage for their food. Females spend their entire life within their herd of other related females. It's time to allow them to have the next best thing: sanctuary.