Columbus Zoo Makes First Appearance On In Defense Of Animals’ 2011 “Ten Worst Zoos For Elephants” List – Grabs Number Eight Spot


Contact: Catherine Doyle, 323-301-5730,

Columbus, Ohio (January 17, 2012) The 2011 list of the Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants, released yesterday by In Defense of Animals (IDA), once again exposes the hidden suffering of elephants in zoos, where lack of space, unsuitably cold climates and unnatural conditions condemn Earth’s largest land mammals to lifetimes of deprivation, disease and early death. The list is in its eighth year.

A promising trend toward the closure of inadequate elephant displays continued in 2011 and includes zoos that have appeared on IDA’s annual list. The most recent are the Central Florida Zoo and Southwick’s Zoo in Massachusetts. The Toronto Zoo’s appearance on the 2009 list sparked a campaign that led to the closure of that exhibit in 2012. This brings the number of zoos that have closed or will close their elephant exhibits to 22, and zoo experts expect that number to rise.

The Columbus Zoo appears for the first time on IDA’s list with the following entry:

Columbus Zoo (Ohio) – No way to treat a star. Seven-year-old Bodhi, who was shipped to the Denver Zoo in November, quickly fell from star attraction to just another unwanted male elephant in a zoo world that favors females and crowd-attracting calves but is unprepared to house the more powerful and dangerous males. When moving Bodhi, this zoo outrageously implied that his relocation paralleled elephant life in nature. Had the zoo done its homework, it would have known that if Bodhi had been born in the wild, he would have lived with his doting mother and family until he was a teenager. The Columbus Zoo obviously needs a refresher course on the wealth of scientific research that shows just how unnatural life is for elephants in tiny zoo exhibits, especially male calves like Bodhi who are forced to leave their mothers well before it is time.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park (California) earns yet another dishonorable mention, and the San Antonio Zoo (Texas) becomes the newest inductee into the Worst Zoos for Elephants Hall of Shame, a special honor reserved for the worst repeat offenders.

Another result of IDA’s relentless advocacy for elephants in zoos has been the creation of an historic management policy by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The new policy calls for an end to handling that requires keepers to share the same unrestricted space with elephants. If the AZA is serious about enforcing this policy, it will facilitate an end to the use of the bullhook, a weapon used by keepers to threaten and often inflict painful physical punishment.

“IDA’s Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants list illustrates the many serious problems that condemn elephants to lives of misery in zoos,” said IDA Elephant Campaign Director Catherine Doyle. “These include abnormal repetitive behaviors, hyper-aggression, social isolation, and deadly conditions such as foot and joint disease caused by lack of space and movement.”

“Scientific research has shown what elephants need: space to walk miles every day, large families with whom to spend their lives, and rich natural environments,” said Doyle. “Caging elephants in zoo displays is not humane and it is not conservation.”

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Contact: Catherine Doyle, 323-301-5730,

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 India, Africa, and rural Mississippi.


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



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