Media Release - Pittsburgh Zoo Risked Seeni’s Elephant Baby Long Before She Died

Media Release - Pittsburgh Zoo Risked Seeni’s Elephant Baby Long Before She Died


Toni Frohoff, Ph.D.,, 805-836-0496

Will Anderson,,  206-715-6414


Pittsburgh, PA (August 30, 2017) – The suffering endured by the baby elephant recently euthanized by the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium and its International Conservation Center (ICC) was the result of recklessly and selfish breeding.  The Zoo and ICC impregnated mother Seeni, knowing that she was unable to provide the maternal care necessary for the baby to thrive. Seeni was orphaned as a calf herself, had not learned socially transmitted mothering skills, and had already demonstrated this by a lack of her maternal care contributing to the loss of her first baby years ago in Africa.

In Defense of Animals is outraged that the Pittsburgh Zoo and its ICC have failed to acknowledge their responsibility for virtually guaranteeing that Seeni’s infant elephant would suffer the way she did - from maternal deprivation and likely also from brandishing her in a pathetically impoverished environment to be on public display and viewed through a viewing window.

“The ICC/Zoo continues to invasively induce mostly unsuccessful elephant pregnancies and births in captivity when human and financial resources should instead be diverted directly to real conservation efforts in Asia and Africa. That is the only place where elephant populations can actually benefit from bonafide conservation practices.” said In Defense of Animals’ Director, Dr. Marilyn Kroplick.

“Captivity actually conflicts with conservation for elephants in zoos, diverting precious resources from the wild where the only real conservation efforts can succeed.” Dr. Toni Frohoff, In Defense of Animals Elephant Scientist, added. “Even if Seeni’s baby had survived, she would never have been introduced to the wild and she wouldn’t even have had the requisite skills needed to care for a baby of her own”.

“At a press conference today, the Zoo’s President and CEO, Dr. Barbara Baker dodged the ICC/Zoo’s main responsibility by irresponsibly impregnating Seeni when they knew of her history,” said Dr. Toni Frohoff.  “This goes well beyond our opposition to elephant captivity – this is irresponsible breeding and unnecessary suffering and death” she said.

In Defense of Animals cited Pittsburgh Zoo and its ICC many controversial practices on its respected annual list of the Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants for 2016long before the baby elephant’s death.

IDA was horrified when, in late July, 2017, Zoo CEO Barbara Baker mused after this baby’s birth that they might impregnate Seeni again, but add hormone replacement so she would more likely produce milk. IDA hopes this preventable tragedy will make Nelson re-think her cruel and misguided plans.

For more information on the Pittsburgh Zoo/International Conservation Center’s shocking animal welfare record, please see In Defense of Animals Ten Worst Zoos list:

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In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 30-year history of fighting for animals, people and the environment through education, campaigns and hands-on rescue facilities in India, Africa, and rural Mississippi.

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