St. Louis Zoo Makes In Defense Of Animals’ 2011 “Ten Worst Zoos For Elephants” List

Grabs Number Six Spot


Contact: Catherine Doyle, 323-301-5730,

St. Louis, Mo. (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 report that the number is expected to rise.

The St. Louis Zoo has so many problems, IDA is recalling it from the Worst Zoos for Elephants Hall of Shame to feature it again on the annual list with this entry:

St. Louis Zoo (Missouri) – Everything that can go wrong. In 2011, new calf Kenzi failed to make a public appearance for three months after her birth, and gained a mere 80 pounds during that time. This raised a red flag, as her mother, Rani, had attacked and rejected her previous calf. The zoo also started treating 40-year-old Donna for tuberculosis, a disease found in captive elephants; the entire elephant group was likely exposed to this deadly disease. Since this zoo last appeared on the list two calves were infected with a deadly elephant virus and Ellie suffered a miscarriage; a history of chronic foot disease and arthritis due to the inadequacy of the tiny exhibit first landed St. Louis on the list. The small amount of space the zoo plans to add can’t make up for the long, cold midwest winters during which the elephants spend long stretches of time in concrete stalls. Despite miserable conditions and the danger of spreading infectious diseases to even more elephants, the zoo continues its breeding program.

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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