RIP Tanya: Cameron Park Elephant Dies Leaving One in Isolation
The sudden death of Tanya, an African elephant who was held at the Cameron Park Zoo in Texas, has left one elephant there who is now enduring solitary confinement. Captivity itself causes a number of negative physical and psychological effects to elephants, but isolation is among the most harmful and unnatural situations an elephant can endure.
Tanya died on September 29, 2020 at 40-years-old. The average age African elephants die in captivity is just 38.6 years old. In the wild, elephants can enjoy life spans comparable to humans — up to 70 years old. Female elephants can even remain fertile into their 60s!
Yet Cameron Park Zoo chose to mislead the public by referring in its press release to managing “geriatric” animals, according to one local news report.
With Tanya’s death, female elephant Tembo is now the only elephant in the Zoo’s enclosure. The Zoo was already violating standards set by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which require a minimum of three female elephants to be housed together. Now, Tembo faces an uncertain future. On its Facebook page, Cameron Park Zoo has indicated it will be exploring other companions for Tembo through Species Survival Programs — which are frequently used as an excuse to breed more elephants into lifetimes of captivity so that zoos can continue profiting off of their lives. Any decision except sending Tembo to an accredited sanctuary will be one made out of a motive for profit rather than Tembo’s best interest.
Tanya has been released from a sad life behind bars. We can only hope that Cameron Park Zoo will give Tembo more freedom by sending her to an accredited sanctuary. Please leave a polite message on the Zoo’s social media channels encouraging them to retire Tembo.
Find out more about how harmful captivity is for elephants, and how we’re working to end it by visiting our Elephants campaign.