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Lucky the Elephant Needs Companionship

May 24th, 2013 by Nicole Meyer

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IDA Slams the San Antonio Zoo Over Decision to Keep Lucky Alone

Sad. That’s the only word to describe the San Antonio Zoo’s announced decision to keep a 53-year-old elephant named Lucky alone at the zoo, likely until she dies. The zoo’s other elephant, Queenie, died in March.

Attempting to justify the unjustifiable, the zoo’s director made the misleading claim that Lucky is antisocial and doesn’t get along with other elephants—a flimsy argument parroted by several other zoos struggling to rationalize keeping a member of a profoundly social species in solitary confinement.

The Bowmanville Zoo and the Edmonton Zoo, both in Canada, make this claim regarding their solitary female elephants, as did the Anchorage Zoo in Alaska. Maggie lived alone for a decade before the Anchorage Zoo finally retired her to a sanctuary in 2007 in the face of a crisis: Maggie collapsed in her enclosure. Today, she is thriving in the company of other elephants in an expansive habitat at the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in California.

Lucky’s plight raises serious questions about the practices and ethics within the zoo industry and its accrediting body—the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)—regarding captive elephant programs. The AZA reportedly granted the San Antonio Zoo a variance, overruling its own guidelines that female elephants should be housed in groups of three. Lucky is now the only known solitary female elephant at a zoo accredited by the AZA.

Another zoo recently faced a similar situation, but handled it with much more compassion. Following the death of one of their two elephants, the Baton Rouge Zoo decided to send the surviving elephant to the National Zoo in order to provide her with companionship. Recognizing the social needs of female elephants, the National Zoo stated, “The best thing for an elephant is another elephant. Elephants are a social species.”

There is no sound argument to support the San Antonio Zoo’s erroneous assertion that Lucky is “atypical” and “prefers to be alone, by herself.” The zoo’s decision to keep Lucky alone ignores decades of scientific research documenting the fact that female elephants are intensely social—in the wild they live in matriarchal, multi-generational herds that include sisters, aunts, nieces, and nephews. Lucky’s needs are no different from any other elephant, but what sets her apart is 51 years in captivity. In the San Antonio Zoo’s cramped and grossly outdated exhibit, Lucky has seen a string of elephants die. Some she may have gotten along with, maybe not so well with others, but this isn’t Lucky’s fault—it’s the zoo’s fault for subjecting unrelated elephants to an exhibit that’s too small for proper elephant interaction. And now, the zoo continues to deny Lucky the two things she needs most: the companionship of other elephants of her own choosing and room to roam.

The last time the AZA granted the zoo a variance, Lucky was housed in isolation for nearly three years. The AZA states in its guidelines it will not grant variances after September 2016. So what then?

In Defense of Animals sincerely hopes that it doesn’t take a life-threatening crisis for the zoo to finally put its own selfish interests aside and retire Lucky to a facility with a more natural environment that will offer her room to roam and the companionship of other elephants of her own choosing. The novelty of seeing an elephant in a zoo does not justify subjecting Lucky to further trauma by keeping her in solitary confinement. Surely, the people of San Antonio don’t want their own zoo treating one of the most sensitive and intelligent animals on earth so poorly.

Click here to help Lucky.

177 Responses to “Lucky the Elephant Needs Companionship”

  1. June 22, 2013 at 1:42 am, Elsie Nicholls said:

    Animals shouldn’t be enslaved, the reason is for greed power and money. Elephants are highly intelligent social creatures,they share the same emotions as we do. So why are people so insensitive to the basic needs of the animals they enslave. They are guilty of cruelty and neglect, laws must be implemented to prevent these capitalist making money out of pain and suffering

    Reply

  2. June 20, 2013 at 8:30 am, Brenda Ramzinsky said:

    Th San Antonio Zoo is being selfish and hard deaded….I’ve seen the Elepant area when both were there (elephants) -on was so miserable that it rocked back n forth with its trunk down – this is animal cruelty…for the sake of the holy dollar…..Shme on SA Zoo – we will no
    longer support them or be members as a result……..mo more animals in captivity especially when the keepers cant keep them healthy and happy.

    Reply

  3. June 19, 2013 at 9:25 pm, Alyssa said:

    This is so sad!! NO PERSON OR ANIMAL should live alone and abused! This breaks my heart to know that some people think that it is ok to do this!

    Reply

  4. June 19, 2013 at 8:36 am, ronse veronique said:

    Oh Lucky i wish you all the best, it is heartbraking

    Reply

  5. June 17, 2013 at 2:42 pm, NANCY G. ELLISON said:

    I WAS BORN AND RAISED IN AUSTIN, TEXAS AND I’VE BEEN TO THE SAN ANTONIO ZOO MANY TIMES. I ALWAYS FELT SO BAD FOR THE ANIMALS THAT WERE CAGED. AND I REMEMBER THE ELEPHANTS STANDING ALONE ALL DAY. THIS ELEPHANT FIRST SHOULD BE RELEASED TO A SANCTUARY NOW. THE ZOO MUST HELP THIS ELEPHANT TO LIVE OUT IT’S LIFE FREE FROM THE ZOO. THE PEOPLE OF TEXAS WANT THIS FOR LUCKY. I MAY BE IN ALBANY, NY RIGHT NOW, BUT MY HEART IS IN TEXAS.

    Reply

  6. June 10, 2013 at 9:01 pm, Cindy said:

    What can we do about this? Picket everyday. I will be in San Antonio and I would be happy to hand deliver a petition of as many names as we can gather. So so unfair. Poor Lucky. It is not fair.

    Reply

  7. May 29, 2013 at 9:00 pm, Anonymous said:

    Reply

  8. May 27, 2013 at 5:09 am, sammarye said:

    Lucky does not need another prisoner to keep her company. Lucky needs to be released from her prison and sent to a sanctuary. All the zoo cares about is the ticket sales from ignorant people who don’t realize how much she suffers.

    Reply

  9. May 27, 2013 at 3:41 am, Nellie Lowe said:

    It’s heart breaking…..pls don’t leave her alone!

    Reply

  10. May 26, 2013 at 6:35 pm, Carole Pelletier said:

    My heart breaks for this poor animal. Obviously, the zoo has no heart.

    Reply

  11. May 26, 2013 at 12:20 pm, Eleanor Hammel said:

    ELEPHANTS ARE COMMUNAL ANIMALS AND NEED TO BE WITH OTHERS OF THEIR KIND … STOP BEING CRUEL AND SADISTIC IN KEEPING HER ALONE…LET HER GO TO AN ELEPHANT SANCTUARY NOOOOOOOW

    Reply

  12. May 26, 2013 at 11:28 am, Paulette Trimble said:

    Please get Lucky a companion now…

    Reply

  13. May 25, 2013 at 7:25 am, R.M. Fontanez said:

    STOP Lucky’s isolation. Why do you act in such a cruel manner? Are you incapable of compassion? All life springs from the same source and we are all part of a whole. STOP LUCK’S isolation.

    Reply

  14. May 25, 2013 at 5:10 am, Jo-Ann Harris said:

    Signed. It’s not rocket science to know elephants are social animals. Poor Lucky is just seen as another exhibit to bring in money. No compassion or interest seems to exist for her mental growth – confinement is detrimental to this process. I hope they see fit to release her to a proper sanctuary where she can interact with her own kind, and have the mental simulation she so desperately needs.

    Reply

  15. May 24, 2013 at 7:17 pm, Patricia webb said:

    No human or animal deserves to live thir entire life alone! I’m sure the people in charge of making the decision to keep her alone would never choose such a life for themselves, anyone in their family, or even one of their pets! Shame on every one of them!!!

    Reply

  16. May 24, 2013 at 3:31 pm, jolanda said:

    Dear God let this elephant have a companion. How would you like to be along and never have a friend. Shame on the people who thought this is ok.

    Reply

  17. May 24, 2013 at 2:07 pm, Tucker said:

    WE WILL KEEP FIGHTING AND NOT GIVE UP UNTIL THIS POOR ELEPHANT LUCKY IS TAKEN OUT OF THIS HELL OLE AND TAKEN TO SAFETY!!!! LOVE!!!!
    WITH PEOPLE WHO CARE AND OTHER ELEPHANTS!!!

    THIS IS SICK AND MAKES ME SO LIVID THAT THE LAW CAN’T STOP THIS!!!!
    EFFING PISSES ME OFF!!!!

    Reply

  18. May 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm, Shirlee schremp said:

    The cruel morons!

    Reply

  19. May 24, 2013 at 11:34 am, GURO MARGRETHE MARGRETHE SKJOLD said:

    REALLY SO HEARTBREAKING

    Reply

  20. May 24, 2013 at 11:07 am, sammarye said:

    Scummy, lying zoo director. MONEY is what he cares about, not the well-being of Lucky.

    Reply

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