Veterinarians Decry San Antonio Zoo Elephant Plan at Thursday Press Conference


San Antonio, Tex. (November 4, 2009) – A former San Antonio Zoo veterinarian will be joined by a wildlife veterinarian and Asian elephant expert at a press conference to call for permanent closure of the San Antonio Zoo’s impoverished elephant exhibit. The experts will also advocate sending the zoo’s surviving elephant, Lucky, to a sanctuary and bar the zoo from acquiring any new elephants.

WHAT: Press conference on San Antonio Zoo elephant controversy
WHO: Former San Antonio Zoo veterinarian Mel Richardson, DVM
Wildlife biologist/veterinarian Anand Ramanathan, BVSc, MS
Representatives from Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force and VOICE for Animals
WHEN: Thursday, November 5th, 11am
WHERE: In front of the San Antonio Zoo main entrance, 3903 North St. Mary’s Street

Mel Richardson, DVM, is a captive wild animal consultant with 40 years experience working with a variety of animals, including elephants. He has been a veterinarian for 27 years, working at several zoos, including the San Antonio Zoo for five years, and at an elephant sanctuary.

Anand Ramanathan, BVSc. MS, is a wildlife biologist and veterinarian, who has worked with elephants in the wild and in zoos in the U.S. and India, where he also spearheaded a captive elephant welfare program. He is currently the Executive Director for In Defense of Animals, an international animal protection organization.

This week marks the two-year anniversary of Lucky’s solitary confinement, following the death of her companion Alport. The San Antonio Zoo has refused to send Lucky to a sanctuary, and has repeatedly stated its intention to bring in another Asian elephant, even though its future plans are to display African, and not Asian, elephants. Lucky and any companion the zoo acquires will be shipped off to destinations unknown when construction on the new elephant exhibit begins.

On Monday, In Defense of Animals (IDA) filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, charging that the San Antonio Zoo is in violation of federal animal welfare laws due to its deficient elephant display and for keeping Lucky alone, which is traumatic for this profoundly social species. The complaint followed a scathing report released by the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force concerning a variety of animal welfare problems at the Zoo.

Catherine Doyle, IDA Captive Elephant Specialist, 323-301-5730,
Suzanne Roy, IDA Program Director, 919-697-9389,

In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization located in San Rafael, Calif. dedicated to protecting animals' rights, welfare, and habitat through education, outreach, and our hands-on rescue facilities in Mumbai, India, Cameroon, Africa, and rural Mississippi. _________________________________________________________________________________

IN DEFENSE OF ANIMALS • 3010 KERNER BLVD. • SAN RAFAEL, CA 94901 • 415-448-0048

27 Comments on “Veterinarians Decry San Antonio Zoo Elephant Plan at Thursday Press Conference”

  • Danielle wrote on 5 November, 2009, 19:14

    This CRUEL exhibit needs to be shut down immediatley. Why is this highly social, sensitive animal being held in solitary confinement for YEARS? THIS is DISGUSTING!!! Please help LUCKY!! WHAT A NAME….SHE SHURE IS NOT LUCKY!!!
    San Antonio zoo definatley is in this just for the money..they do NOT

    This just breaks my heart & makes me ashamed TO BE A HUMAN BEING!!!!!

  • donna wrote on 9 November, 2009, 11:58

    Poor Lucky sure hasn’t been Lucky….Hope she gets to a sanctuary ….

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