August 23rd, 2011 by Nicole Meyer
This has been an exciting week for elephants, including some momentous changes for elephants in zoos:
- IDA has long been fighting to stop archaic, circus-style training in zoos that is inhumane for elephants and lethal for keepers. So we are applauding an important policy change by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) that would end the most cruel training practices in zoos. By September 1, 2014, keepers in AZA zoos will no longer be able to share the same unrestricted space with elephants – which means an end to the use of “free contact” training and bullhooks, though there will be some exceptions. This is a significant step forward, but there is still much work to be done for the many elephants who are still kept in woefully inadequate conditions that cause them to suffer and die prematurely.
- Actor and comedian Lily Tomlin has joined the effort to stop a misguided plan to bring an elephant named Rosie to live in Maine and to instead support sending her to an established sanctuary. (Rosie is currently held at a circus-related facility, though not performing.) Ms. Tomlin has written a letter to Maine Governor Paul LePage, explaining that it would be cruel to bring Rosie to Maine because of the long, cold winters that would force her indoors for much of the year, and the fact that she would be kept alone. She also cited serious public safety issues, including dangerously inexpert handling, unsafe and inhumane handling practices (including use of the bullhook), and the risk of tuberculosis, which is transmissible to humans. She stated: “Maine would be left with an unsafe roadside zoo.” Stay tuned to this blog and to www.HelpElephants.comfor more information on this ill-advised plan. Read Ms. Tomlin’s letter here.
- IDA blasted the Pittsburgh Zoo for the recent import of a five-year-old male African calf named Thabo-Umasai from the Dresden Zoo in Germany. By taking the calf, the zoo is reinforcing reckless breeding and handling practices prevalent in many zoos, including the separations of mothers and calves. Read more about his sad story here.
Keep checking this blog and www.HelpElephants.com for the latest news and actions that you can take to help elephants in zoos and circuses.