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IDA Urges Feds To Investigate Elephant Death At Little Rock Zoo

September 17th, 2013 by Nicole Meyer

In Defense Of Animals Urges USDA To Investigate Death Of Elephant At Little Rock Zoo

Little Rock, Ark. (September 17, 2013) – In Defense of Animals (IDA), an international animal protection organization, is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate the recent death of an Asian elephant named Jewell at the Little Rock Zoo, and to ensure that the surviving elephant, Zina, receives vigilant monitoring due to ill health.

In Defense of AnimalsAccording to media reports, zoo staff found 62-year-old Jewell lying on her side on the morning of September 8th, unable to stand. She was later euthanized. It is evident that zoo staff did not monitor Jewell overnight and it is unknown whether Jewell’s death was protracted or immediate, or whether prompt staff intervention could have prevented Jewell’s death or remediated any suffering.

Jewell had a lengthy history of medical problems and was diagnosed with arthritis as early as 1991. She is the second elephant in a matter of months to go down with no apparent overnight monitoring at a zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). In March, an elephant named Judy at Brec’s Baton Rouge Zoo was found dead in her enclosure by keepers making their morning rounds.

“Jewell’s tragic death should serve as a wake-up call for the entire zoo industry and the AZA to ensure that chronically ill elephants receive vigilant and round-the-clock care and monitoring, said Nicole Meyer, Director of IDA’s Elephant Protection Campaign. “IDA is asking the USDA to investigate the circumstances surrounding Jewell’s death to determine whether the zoo’s failure to monitor an ill elephant during the night violates the veterinary care requirements of the Animal Welfare Act.”

IDA is also urging the agency to ensure that the zoo’s surviving 53-year-old Asian elephant, Zina, receives more vigilant nighttime monitoring. Zina also suffers from serious and potentially life-threatening health issues, including foot problems and arthritis—among the leading causes of death of captive elephants.

The Little Rock Zoo earned a spot on IDA’s 2011 list of the Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants after IDA urged the zoo to send an elephant named Ellen to a sanctuary following the death of another elephant. The zoo refused and instead, brought in Jewell and Zina—Ellen died within two months. IDA is again urging Little Rock to send yet another sole surviving elephant to a spacious, natural-habitat sanctuary where she could live her remaining years in the company of other elephants, and to close its elephant exhibit for good.

You can read IDA’s complaint to the USDA here.

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