Reid Park Zoo Forces Infant Elephants into Captivity
Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, Arizona heartlessly breeds African elephants knowing the newborns will be condemned to unnatural lives of captivity and deprivation. Sadly, another newborn victim is now on the way.
The family tree at Reid Park is riddled with tragedy. In 2003, the San Diego Wild Animal Park imported seven of eleven young, wild-caught elephants from Swaziland in order to maintain and grow its captive population for profit. Zoos frequently turn to wild captures because captivity leads to high death rates, unsuccessful reproduction attempts, and a need for genetic diversity. In 2016, the injustices continued as San Diego Animal Park's application to import an additional eighteen elephants was approved by the highly corrupt Swaziland government. Scientists and organizations, including In Defense of Animals, fiercely opposed both imports.
In 2012, three of the seven wild-caught elephants and two of their captive-born offspring were separated from the four elephants they knew in Swaziland and taken to Reid Park Zoo. Their “names” were Mabu, a male, and Semba and Lungile, both females. Sundzu and Punga had already been born as captives in San Diego to Mabu and Semba. Punga was euthanized at age eleven after his intestine became twisted. In 2014, Semba was bred again to produce her third calf, Nandi. Now Semba is pregnant yet again, with a birth expected in 2020.
Zoos have lost all perspective, common sense, and truth regarding the reality and harm caused to the captive elephants at their facilities, and Reid Park Zoo is the epitome of these delusions. Zoos do not breed elephants to replenish wild populations, but often intentionally associate captive births to imperiled wild populations to gain public support. Since there is low genetic variation among captive elephants, the breeding of these animals in North America’s zoos will not benefit wild elephants.
The significant amount of money raised by zoos across the country to expand and maintain captive exhibits diverts critical funding away from protecting wild elephants through effective, community-based initiatives. The best outcome for any elephant in captivity, including the victims of Reid Park Zoo’s irresponsible, unjustified, and unkind elephant baby mill, is an escape to an accredited elephant sanctuary where large tracts of forested land and expert care allow elephants to be themselves as much as possible.
Please remember, giving your money to zoos keeps elephants in captivity. Donating to In Defense of Animals supports our work to free them from zoos.