March 12th, 2013 by Nicole Meyer
Following Elephant Death, In Defense Of Animals Urges San Antonio Zoo
To Retire Surviving Elephant And Close Elephant Exhibit
San Antonio, Texas (March 12, 2013) – Following the death of the elephant Queenie, In Defense of Animals (IDA), an international animal protection organization with more than 100,000 supporters, is calling on the San Antonio Zoo to retire the one surviving elephant at the zoo, and permanently close its elephant exhibit.
The zoo euthanized Queenie on Sunday, reportedly due to a health problem. This leaves Lucky, a 53-year old female Asian elephant, alone once again. Lucky had lived alone prior to Queenie’s arrival, following the death of another elephant.
IDA worked for years to rescue Queenie (aka Boo) from a circus. Her plight struck an emotional chord with IDA supporters, who sent more than 40,000 faxes and emails on her behalf to various government agencies. In 2009, the USDA finally filed charges against Queenie’s handler for multiple violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. But instead of retiring Queenie to a sanctuary as IDA requested, the USDA ignored Queenie’s welfare and struck a deal with her handler and the San Antonio Zoo, condemning the two elephants to a life of misery and deprivation in the zoo’s archaic exhibit.
At the time, IDA warned of potential compatibility issues between Queenie and Lucky, which ultimately led to intense stress and aggression between the elephants in the zoo’s cramped exhibit. IDA also warned that the zoo would likely find itself in the same position as it is now—with a solitary elephant—when one of the elephants dies. The zoo has disregarded previous calls to send Lucky to a sanctuary and she is once again without companions, which is cruel for female elephants who are profoundly social.
“Queenie’s last few years at the San Antonio Zoo were needlessly tragic and a direct result of the USDA’s inaction and the zoo’s selfish desire to exploit elephants,” said Nicole Meyer, Director of IDA’s Elephant Protection Campaign. “While it’s unfortunately too late for Queenie, Lucky has a chance for a better future. It’s time for the zoo to put its own interests aside and make the compassionate decision to close its elephant exhibit and retire Lucky to a spacious, natural-habitat environment where she can live her remaining years in the company of other elephants.”
IDA’s letter to the San Antonio Zoo, copied to Mayor Julián Castro, is available upon request.
To learn how you can help Lucky, please click here.