Media Release: Canadian Zoo Shamed on List of 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants

Media Release: Canadian Zoo Shamed on List of 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants

MEDIA RELEASE: Canadian Zoo Shamed on List of 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants


CONTACT: Toni Frohoff, Ph.D.,, 805-836-0496

Edmonton, AB (Jan 10, 2016) – In Defense of Animals has released its respected annual list of the Ten Worst Zoos For Elephants for 2016, exposing the shocking hidden suffering of elephants in zoos in North America, and shaming Edmonton Valley Zoo.

This is the seventh consecutive year that Edmonton Valley Zoo has been featured on In Defense of Animals’ List of the 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants in North America, and seven times too many for such egregious violations of elephant welfare.

Lucy is a 41-year old Asian elephant who has spent the last 39 years living in Edmonton, one of the coldest cities in Canada. She is the most northern elephant in the world, and she has the arthritis, dental disease, and respiratory problems to prove it.

The Edmonton Valley Zoo continues to be non-compliant with Alberta’s Zoo Standards, yet the zoo’s permit was reissued this year by the Alberta government.

“Lucy is suffering horrendously at Edmonton Valley Zoo”, said In Defense of Animals President, Dr. Marilyn Kroplick. “Edmonton Valley Zoo is exploiting Lucy, violating her rights, stripping her of her dignity, and submitting her to disgusting abuses in its cramped and cold prison. It is time for Edmonton Valley Zoo to shut down its archaic and barbaric zoo exhibit, and retire Lucy to a sanctuary where she can live in a better climate with the company of her own kind.”

One of the many standards established by the Province requires that animals, “must be maintained in numbers sufficient to meet their social and behavioral needs,” yet Lucy remains alone with no elephant companions, in a barren, antiquated, and inadequate exhibit. Science has unequivocally demonstrated the devastating impacts from lack of same species companionship for such a highly intelligent and social animal. However, Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums continues to grant the Zoo a variance that allows it to keep a solitary elephant, and the government is failing to enforce standards that should be protecting her welfare.

Lucy remains, literally, between a rock and a cold, hard place. Winter temperatures in Edmonton are regularly sub zero, and the weather forecast today is just -7 degrees Fahrenheit. Canada is no place for an elephant evolved for a tropical climate.

Lucy’s most essential needs as an elephant continue to be brazenly disregarded by her captors who insist on keeping her in their frozen prison as their main “attraction.” Traveling to and from her lonely barn, for short walks on frozen winter ground with her bullhook-toting zookeeper, Lucy lives a tragic existence for an elephant evolved to live in multi-generational herds and tropical weather.

“Zoos are consumers, not conservers, of elephants”, said In Defense of Animals Elephant Scientist, Toni Frohoff, Ph.D. “Captive elephants are dying faster than they can reproduce, leading zoos to steal young elephants from the wild, which destroys the elephant societies zoos claim to be conserving. Behind the scenes, zoos in the US and Canada are condemning Earth’s largest land mammals to lifetimes of deprivation, disease, despair, and early death. It is time to end our shameful exploitation of elephants in North American zoos.”

Zoos all over the US and one zoo in Canada appear on the worst list, with Oklahoma City Zoo shamed as the #1 Worst Zoo. The list reveals captivity-related deaths, abuse with weapons, grossly inadequate conditions, families ripped apart, elephants torn from Africa and shipped to US zoos, elephants forced to wash cars, and even elephants found playing with a car battery.

1. Oklahoma City Zoo, Oklahoma
2. Natural Bridge Zoo, Rockbridge County, Virginia
3. Honolulu Zoo, Hawaii
4. Edmonton Valley Zoo, Alberta, Canada
5. Oregon Zoo, Portland, Oregon
6. Buffalo Zoo, Buffalo, New York
7. Wildlife Safari, Winston, Oregon
8. Pittsburgh Zoo, Pennsylvania
9. Milwaukee County Zoo, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
10. Fort Worth Zoo, Fort Worth, Texas

Buttonwood Park Zoo, New Bedford, Massachusetts

Bronx Zoo, Bronx, New York

For more information, please visit

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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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2016 Top Ten Worst Zoos