In Defense of Animals Urges Central Florida Zoo to Send Elephant to Sanctuary
San Rafael, Calif. – In Defense of Animals (IDA) today sent a letter to Central Florida Zoo CEO Joe Montisano, urging him to retire the zoo’s sole Asian elephant Maude to a spacious, natural habitat sanctuary. The call follows the death of Mary this week at age 63. In the past the zoo has indicated that when one of the elephants died, it would consider relocating the other.
“The Central Florida Zoo has an important decision to make for Maude,” said IDA’s elephant campaign director Catherine Doyle. “Will Maude spend the remainder of her days in a small, unnatural zoo exhibit, or a spacious, natural habitat sanctuary where she would have room to roam, the companionship of other Asian elephants, and a permanent home?”
The zoo’s small and outdated elephant exhibit can only hold two elephants and lacks the space and natural conditions that elephants need to thrive. While the zoo could opt to acquire a second elephant, it is unlikely because it would still not be compliant with elephant standards set by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) that require zoos hold no less than three female elephants.
In the letter to Montisano, IDA raised concerns about sending Maude to another zoo because of the possibility that she may not integrate with new cage-mates and could be moved yet again to another zoo, or be forced to live segregated from other elephants. Because sanctuaries have greater space, elephants integrate easily into social groups and soon form lasting bonds with companions of their own choosing.
The two leading U.S. sanctuaries, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and PAWS in California, have set the standard for the care of captive elephants by providing spacious and complex environments that give elephants the space they need for movement, large social groups, and high quality veterinary care. All the elephants living in sanctuaries spent many years in captivity, like Maude, and all have made the transition to this more natural environment.
Eleven AZA-accredited zoos have sent elephants to sanctuaries, including zoos in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Detroit. No AZA-accredited zoo that has sent an elephant to a sanctuary has lost its accreditation for doing so.
“Maude has spent her life on public display, the last 27 years of it at the Central Florida Zoo,” concluded Doyle. “Relocation to a sanctuary is the most reasonable and humane choice for her, one we are sure the public will support as it will give Maude the highest quality of life possible.”
Dr. Elliot Katz, IDA’s President and a veterinarian, added “At Maude’s age, if she stays in a zoo she’s likely to develop arthritis or other health complications, due to lack of space for exercise and standing on hard surfaces like concrete. Arthritis is a painful and potentially deadly condition for an elephant. A sanctuary provides the soft soil, space and exercise that elephants need to stay healthy.”
March 5, 2010
Contact: Catherine Doyle, firstname.lastname@example.org, 323-301-5730
IN DEFENSE OF ANIMALS • 3010 KERNER BLVD. • SAN RAFAEL, CA 94901 • 415-448-0048
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