August 21st, 2011 by Nicole Meyer
IDA has long been fighting to end archaic, circus-style training in zoos because it’s inhumane for elephants and lethal for keepers. We are happy to tell you that the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has announced a profound change in policy that would bring an end to cruel training practices in zoos. The AZA announced that by September 1, 2014, keepers in AZA zoos will no longer be able to share the same unrestricted space with elephants, with some exceptions. The new policy allows for exceptions, including medical procedures and testing (which is already being done by zoos using “protected contact” training that uses only positive reinforcement and no bullhooks). Zoos also will be required to document all instances of aggression by elephants and to report annually on all injuries or fatalities related to elephants (no such record-keeping now exists). This new directive is a significant step forward, but many elephants in zoos are still kept in woefully inadequate conditions that cause them to suffer and die prematurely, so there still is much work to be done.
More details to come!