MEDIA RELEASE: VICTORY! In Defense of Animals Welcomes News that Rosamond Gifford Zoo Has Canceled Cruel Plans to Separate Distressed Elephant from His Family

MEDIA RELEASE: VICTORY! In Defense of Animals Welcomes News that Rosamond Gifford Zoo Has Canceled Cruel Plans to Separate Distressed Elephant from His Family

In Defense of Animals calls on the Syracuse-based zoo to cancel plans to separate young elephant Bantu from his mom and retire all elephants to an accredited sanctuary


SYRACUSE, NY (January 23, 2019) — In Defense of Animals has welcomed news that the Rosamond Gifford Zoo has canceled plans to separate elephant Doc from his family. A zoo spokesperson stated today to CNY Central that “Doc will stay at the Zoo.” The Zoo’s plans to remove Doc were revealed today on In Defense of Animals’ respected list of the 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants, which ranked Rosamond Gifford Zoo as the #10 Worst Zoo for Elephants in North America.

“We welcome news that Rosamond Gifford Zoo has stated that it will not separate Doc from his family,” said Fleur Dawes of In Defense of Animals. “Rosamond Gifford Zoo should do the right thing by young elephant Bantu also, and cancel plans to send him to another zoo. In Defense of Animals documented Doc and at least one other elephant displaying ‘stereotypic’ behaviors at Rosamond Gifford Zoo, indicating their needs are not adequately being met. We call on Rosamond Gifford Zoo to shut down its exhibit and retire all elephants, together, to an accredited sanctuary.” 

In late 2019, an In Defense of Animals investigator documented Asian elephant Doc swaying back and forth on the spot almost constantly throughout the day. These abnormal repetitive movements are known as 'stereotypic behaviors,’ which indicate distress and are important indicators of compromised welfare.

In the following video, an individual representing Rosamond Gifford Zoo names Doc very clearly as the elephant exhibiting this aberrant behavior: (CREDIT: In Defense of Animals)

1.20: “Sometimes they do it [swaying] out of boredom. But that's Doc, he's our male.”

(2.25: Close-up of Doc swaying)

Other footage of Doc displaying abnormal behavior was recorded by an In Defense of Animals investigator: (CREDIT: In Defense of Animals)

In Defense of Animals recorded a Rosamond Gifford Zoo representative saying Doc will soon be separated from his family and deposited at yet another zoo: (CREDIT: In Defense of Animals)

2:46: “Doc is one of our biggest elephants… He’s going to another zoo for breeding purposes”.

The Zoo staffer also revealed that calf, Bantu, will be sent to another zoo.

1.50: “He’ll be leaving in a couple years, Bantu…. After 5, 6 years, they go to other zoos because there can only be one male.”

Zoos pay little regard for friendships or family relationships, and often ship male elephants them around to different facilities whenever one is needed for breeding purposes. Transportation decisions can be made almost solely based on the individual's value in terms of breeding, with little regard for bonds or family relationships.

Full details of elephant suffering at Rosamond Gifford Zoo can be viewed on In Defense of Animals’ 2019 list of the 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants:



Fleur Dawes,, 415-879-6879

IMAGES (free for use with credit per filename): 

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In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 37-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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