BREAKING NEWS: Victory for Elephants! New York’s Buffalo Zoo Shuts Down its Brutally Frigid Exhibit

BREAKING NEWS: Victory for Elephants! New York’s Buffalo Zoo Shuts Down its Brutally Frigid Exhibit

CONTACT: Toni Frohoff, Ph.D.,, 805-836-0496


Buffalo County, NY (August 14, 2018) –

Victory! In Defense of Animals has welcomed news that Buffalo Zoo is shutting down its miserable elephant exhibit after appearing five times over the last ten years on the charity’s list of the 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants. Officials announced August 14 that Asian elephants Jothi and Surapa will move from Buffalo Zoo to a zoo in New Orleans this fall. This announcement comes barely two weeks after In Defense of Animals submitted requests for the elephants’ most recent medical records to the Buffalo Zoo and the City of Buffalo.

Elephant Scientist Dr. Toni Frohoff said, “We are delighted that Buffalo Zoo will let Jothi and Supara thaw out in a more suitable climate. In Defense of Animals has actively and arduously worked to free these elephants from their decrepit, unsuitable zoo conditions for over a decade. This is a positive move for Jothi and Surapa, but we will continue our work to get them to an accredited elephant sanctuary where they can live as elephants instead of as exhibits. One less miserably freezing zoo exhibit for tropical elephants is a cause for great celebration.

The Buffalo Zoo most recently appeared on In Defense of Animals’ 10 Worst Zoos list in 2016 as #6 worst zoo in North America for elephants, where it appeared for the fifth time in ten years. Despite reported renovations, the living conditions for elephants at the brutally cold and barren Buffalo Zoo have been a daily challenge for Surapa and Jothi.

The two elephants will be healthier in a more suitable climate at Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, and no longer be forced to endure Buffalo’s long, hard winters. In recent years temperatures around Buffalo Zoo have dropped to an arctic -11 degrees Fahrenheit - a far cry from their natural tropical and sub-tropical climates. The pair endured months of lack of exercise in their tiny paltry prison enclosure where they were forced to stand on hard surfaces that harm the feet and joints of elephants; a noted cause of captivity-induced pain, illness, and early mortality.

Video footage captured in Buffalo Zoo's barn reveals the pair swaying on the spot, a persistently repetitive motion known as "stereotyped behavior" that indicates intense stress and poor welfare in confined, unnatural environments.

Three Asian elephants at the Bronx Zoo, also in New York, suffer many of the same issues as the Buffalo Zoo elephants. The harsh and unnatural climate causes yearly suffering for all the elephants, one of whom is kept cruelly deprived in solitary isolation. Like Buffalo Zoo, the Bronx Zoo has repeatedly been listed on In Defense of Animals’ list of the 10 Worst Zoos, earning itself a place in the Hall of Shame.

Dr. Marilyn Kroplick, President of In Defense of Animals, said, “Buffalo Zoo has made a positive move for these animals and brought New York a step closer to being free of elephant abuse. Three other Asian elephants are still suffering in New York’s freezing winter climate at the Bronx Zoo, especially Happy the elephant who is kept in tortuous solitary confinement. We call on the Bronx Zoo to have compassion and release the elephants to a sanctuary where they can retire in peace.”

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