10 Worst Zoos for Elephants

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What Is the 10 Worst Zoos List?

Every year, In Defense of Animals releases a list of zoos that have earned a spot on our list of the 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants in North America.


This list serves to raise awareness about the plight of elephants in zoos where lack of space, unsuitably cold climates, and unnatural conditions condemn Earth’s largest land mammals to lifetimes of deprivation, disease, and early death.

The 10 Worst Zoos list is featured by hundreds of news outlets including PBS, the Daily Mail, Esquire, and the New York Times.


How Does In Defense of Animals Determine Which Zoos Make the List?

While most zoos that keep elephants captive deserve to be on the 10 Worst Zoos list, In Defense of Animals considers a number of factors to narrow down the list.

These factors include: health problems, lack of space, unsuitable enclosures, cold climates, unhealthy elephant behaviors, social issues between elephants, solitary elephants, reckless breeding, premature deaths, brutal management procedures, and inappropriate social challenges ranging from incompatibility between elephants to naturally social elephants being kept in crushing solitary confinement.

All zoos confining elephants for public display in the U.S. and Canada are considered. We assess facilities in-person, through review of government and veterinary records, death reports, consultation with elephant scientists and other experts, and via image and data documentation.

Priority is given to notable events occurring in the prior year, such as premature elephant deaths, overt violations of the Animal Welfare Act, and egregious disregard for the social and medical needs of elephants.

In addition to the 10 Worst Zoos, one zoo earns a Dishonorable Mention while repeat offenders may be added to the Hall of Shame.


See Which Zoos Made the 10 Worst Zoos List:


10 Worst Zoos Hall of Shame

The Hall of Shame is a special dishonor reserved for the worst repeat offenders that have made little or no progress improving conditions for elephants.

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