February 2nd, 2010 by Nicole Meyer
When Punxsutawney Phil crawls out of his burrow, what he finds may determine whether elephants living in cold-climate zoos will suffer another six weeks of miserable confinement. IDA today released an unprecedented survey showing that scores of elephants are warehoused throughout the long winter months in cruel conditions, many of them hidden from the public.
Elephants living in cold climates will be confined indoors for the vast majority of each day during the winter, left to in small concrete cages where they lack the space they need for healthy movement. Cold weather dramatically increases the suffering that elephants already endure in zoos, where they are dying prematurely from conditions caused by their inadequate environment.
IDA’s survey found that of 75 Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoos holding elephants in the U.S. and Canada:
- 31 out of 75 (41 percent) zoos holding elephants are situated in cities that experience long, frigid winters.
- 3 out of 4 of zoos holding elephants in cold climates have average mean temperatures below freezing for two to five consecutive months.
- Approximately 40 percent of all elephants in AZA zoos will be confined indoors for much of the winter.