Reid Park Zoo Makes In Defense Of Animals’ 2011 “Ten Worst Zoos For Elephants” List


Grabs Number Two Spot

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Catherine Doyle, 323-301-5730, Catherine@idausa.org

Tucson, Ariz. (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 Reid Park Zoo appears for the second time on IDA’s list with the following entry:

Reid Park Zoo (Tucson, Arizona) – You can’t get more cold-hearted than this. This zoo has a cruel plan to separate Connie and Shaba, who have been tightly bonded for 30 years. Why? Because Connie, who is Asian, does not fit into the zoo’s new African-themed attraction. African Shaba will remain, but if she doesn’t integrate with the breeding group coming from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, she’ll be sent to another zoo. Zoos often separate bonded elephants, causing profound suffering, and ship them between zoos like furniture. The Reid Park Zoo prefers to ignore the reams of scientific research attesting to the deep and often life-long connections that female elephants form in favor of driving up attendance and revenue.

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.”

For more information, please visit www.HelpElephants.com .

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Contact: Catherine Doyle, 323-301-5730, Catherine@idausa.org

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.

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

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