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Elephant Suffering at Bronx Zoo Whitewashed by Animal Planet

Elephant Suffering at Bronx Zoo Whitewashed by Animal Planet

Animal Planet has just aired its second season of a very misleading series called The Zoo, which sanitizes the daily suffering of the three Asian elephants confined at the Bronx Zoo in New York State. One has been solitary for close to a decade, while all three suffer severely compromised welfare. Animal Planet’s “infomercial” for elephant incarceration is an extremely damaging misrepresentation that endangers all elephants who yearn for freedom. It must be pulled immediately!

In a recent episode called An Elephant’s Trust, the sad reality of Happy’s solitary and impoverished existence is heavily masked. The other two elephants, Patty and Maxine, are very closely bonded, leaving Happy as the odd one out, with no other elephant to bond with. Happy’s lonely situation is not adequately reflected in this show. In fact, her vital need for social companionship is entirely and insensitively brushed aside in the show’s description that she, “can’t be with other elephants,” and that, “she does not get along with them.”

The sad truth is, Happy was strongly bonded with Grumpy, her companion who was attacked by Patty and Maxine, who later died from her injuries. After suffering that traumatic loss, Happy was paired with Sammie, a young elephant with whom she bonded very closely, until she also died four years later. Elephants are highly social animals for whom companionship is a basic need. Without it, they suffer. Happy is no exception and she has clearly exhibited healthy and natural social bonding skills with elephants - just not with Patty and Maxine.

The Bronx Zoo has pledged to shut down its elephant exhibit once Patty, Maxine and Happy die. On the show, the Bronx Zoo’s director again refuses offers for the elephants to live out their lives in a more natural sanctuary environment since the Zoo wants them to end their lives behind its prison walls. We’ve shamed the Bronx Zoo on our Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants list a whopping seven times. Help us tell Animal Planet to stop glorifying the Bronx Zoo and get these three long suffering elephants the sanctuary retirement they deserve.

What You Can Do:

Send our letter, by filling out the form on the right-hand side of this page, calling on Animal Planet’s parent company, Discovery, to immediately cease airing this show that misleadingly glorifies a zoo that continues to keep an elephant in a socially deprived, cramped, cold exhibit - when science shows that social deprivation is one of the cruellest fates an elephant can suffer. 

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