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Tragic Death of Baby Elephant at Pittsburgh Zoo Predictable - The Zoo Knew the Risk, But Impregnated the Mother Anyway

Tragic Death of Baby Elephant at Pittsburgh Zoo Predictable - The Zoo Knew the Risk, But Impregnated the Mother Anyway

The unnamed orphan elephant was only three months old when Pittsburgh Zoo euthanized her for failing to gain weight. Born prematurely at the Zoo’s International Conservation Center (ICC), the odds of her surviving were questionable from the start. In Defense of Animals is outraged that the Zoo’s ICC chose to recklessly, irresponsibly, and selfishly impregnate Seeni, the dead baby’s mother, knowing she lost her first baby years ago in Africa. Seeni, the mom, was an orphan and lacked the maternal skills needed to raise a baby successfully. Yet the zoo impregnated her anyway.

At age two, Seeni was traumatized from seeing her elephant family slaughtered during a “cull” in Kreuger National Park, South Africa. Though she was not killed, she was captured and forced to live in captivity, experiencing an unnatural life devoid of elephant culture and maternal care. Instead, Seeni was taught to give elephant rides and follow human commands. 

Had Seeni’s euthanized newborn lived, she would have suffered the same maternal deprivation experienced by her mother and would have been sentenced to live in a pathetically impoverished environment while on public display. Adding another layer of harm, zoos make the ridiculous claim that the only way to keep elephants from going extinct is to construct “herds” in North America. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent by zoos to build new elephant exhibits, using money that should be, instead, diverted to wild elephants and their African protectors in order to prevent extinction.

In Defense of Animals cited Pittsburgh Zoo and its ICC on our respected annual list of the Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants for 2016. We are watching Pittsburgh Zoo and its ICC closely in light of Zoo CEO Barbara Baker musing after this baby’s birth that the Zoo might impregnate Seeni again.

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