March 12th, 2013 by Nicole Meyer
Following the death of the elephant Queenie, In Defense of Animals (IDA) 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 March 10th, 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.
Please write brief, polite letters to the zoo’s director, Steve McCusker, and the Mayor of San Antonio.
Ask Mr. McCusker to act in Lucky’s best interests before it’s too late. Urge him to make the compassionate decision to retire Lucky to a spacious, natural-habitat environment where she can live her remaining years in the company of other elephants.
Urge Mayor Castro to exert his influence over the San Antonio Zoo to persuade the zoo to take immediate action to ensure that Lucky is sent to a more appropriate environment that can better address her needs. After more than five decades at the zoo, Lucky deserves to be retired to a spacious, natural-habitat environment in the company of other elephants.
Mayor Julián Castro
Background: IDA worked for years to rescue Queenie (aka Boo) from a circus. Her plight struck an emotional chord with IDA supporters—you sent more than 40,000 faxes and emails on her behalf to the zoo and various government agencies. Thanks to all of our efforts, the USDA finally filed charges against Queenie’s handler in 2009 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. 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.
After 51 years on display at the San Antonio Zoo, Lucky deserves better.