ZOO BOARD URGED TO SHUT DOWN TORONTO ZOO ELEPHANT EXHIBIT
In Defense of Animals Cites Unprecedented Death Toll in Letter to Board
San Rafael, Calif. (December 10, 2009) - The international zoo watchdog group In Defense of Animals has sent a letter to the Toronto Zoo Board of Management calling for an end to the Zoo's ill-fated elephant exhibit in which four elephants have died prematurely in less than four years. At today's meeting, the Board is expected to discuss whether to bring new elephants into the exhibit or close it altogether.
"Elephants at the Toronto Zoo are dying at an unprecedented rate," said IDA captive elephant specialist Catherine Doyle. "The Toronto Zoo and the Board of Management can no longer ignore the mounting death toll or scientific evidence of the devastating effects of captivity on elephants. The exhibit must be shut down now before more elephants die."
Tara, age 41, died suddenly in November, leaving only three elephants and bringing the Zoo to a crossroads in an elephant program that has seen its elephants all die prematurely. The four elephants who died since 2006 ranged from 38 to 41 years, an age at which elephants are considered to be in their prime. The Zoo's own web site claims elephants have "a potential lifespan of 55 to 70 years."
In its letter to Board Chairman Raymond Cho, IDA urged the Board to reject a proposed $40 million elephant exhibit renovation and instead relocate the remaining elephants to a spacious, natural- habitat sanctuary that can better meet their needs. The group says that even with a costly renovation, the exhibit still will be woefully inadequate. The plan currently is unfunded.
Citing recent scientific developments and leading elephant authorities, IDA says the Toronto Zoo lacks the space and natural conditions necessary for elephants to live healthier and longer lives. Cold weather compounds the problem, as elephants are forced indoors into tiny cages for the majority of long, freezing winters, greatly restricting movement necessary to good health.
IDA's letter to Board Chairman Cho is available upon request.
For more information, please visit helpelephants.com.
Catherine Doyle, 323-301-5370
Suzanne Roy, 919-697-9389
IN DEFENSE OF ANIMALS • 3010 KERNER BLVD. • SAN RAFAEL, CA 94901 • 415-448-0048
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