The shame of zoos

Barbara Amiel on the slums no one is talking about

Greg Southam / Edmonton Journal / CP

Now that Toronto’s elephants have reached the sunny lands of California, we can turn to the basic question: to zoo or not to zoo. Can we justify the suffering of captive animals? Canada still has slums and some of the worst are at our zoos. Lucy, the solitary elephant at the Edmonton zoo under the care of veterinarian Milton Ness, lives in a mental and physical slum. Ness thinks that since she has been separated from any elephants for six years now, she loves human beings instead. She lives “a pretty full and complete life and is very happy here,” he says. Unfortunately for Edmonton’s zoo, Ness is no Brigitte Bardot and can’t make this argument remotely sexy or credible. Perhaps he cares deeply for animals but you couldn’t tell listening to him. One yearns for just one commonsensical observation—possibly that hanging on to an African elephant in a climate that required her in lock-up in a small tiled cage for about 76 per cent of her time was wrong and now it’s too late to move her without serious health issues. But no: We have to hear tripe about the reverse anthropomorphic qualities of Lucy—the elephant who cares for us.

As a child, the zoo was my favourite destination, but it taught me nothing about animals. The primates seemed angry or listless. The polar bears paced round and round. I went to circuses too and never gave a thought as to how trainers got wild animals to jump through a hoop of fire. It was fun; there were sweet crunchy things to eat and ladies in sparkly costumes with top hats and fishnet stockings. No one asked about where the animals lived after their 10 minutes in the ring. We didn’t see the scars from hooks and sharp sticks shoved into anuses, trunks and above the eyes till the animal only had to see the stick in the hand of the smiling trainer to get the message.

Incredibly, Canada still allows circuses with wild animal acts: The Shriners bring them in. The Tarzan Zerbini Circus has a video to prove they train their lions with snacks on a stick. I’m no genius but I’m pretty sure there is an initial stage when you have to break the spirit of a wild animal and instill a terror of the ringmaster’s baton. Some jurisdictions in Canada have legislation preventing the display of wild animal acts. Toronto does not.

Any wild animal in captivity suffers. Keepers love and name their animals, but wild animals don’t reciprocate this love. We can love a giant tortoise, even rats caged for medical experiments, and shed genuine tears over departures, but those animals will not shed tears over leaving us. Even so devoted an animal lover as Jane Goodall, who practically became a chimpanzee, wrote that she was wrong to call her book My Friends the Wild Chimpanzees. Friendship, she explained, had to be reciprocal.

Our iPads show us a snow leopard, but can’t match seeing it first-hand. Purists may deride the new landscape-immersion zoos that try to recreate the environment of the animals they exhibit (even though they often have to use synthetic materials to do so) but human beings have an almost primal need to actually see megafauna in action—whether elephants, rhinos or giant squid. These huge creatures inspire awe. Progressive zoos are better for animals but they are not really “nature.” Nature’s landscape has dead animals, regurgitated prey and feces. “Nature making,” as professor David Grazian of the University of Pennsylvania calls these zoos, is a compromise between the needs of animals, zoo educators and expectations of zoo visitors—which rarely include feeding live animals to carnivores. Environmental enrichment of odors may mean designer fragrances in enclosures: Chanel No. 5 for African wild dogs at the Philadelphia Zoo; Ralph Lauren Polo for Men for San Diego’s giant pandas, and deer antlers sprayed with Calvin Klein’s Obsession at its safari park.

To prevent extinction of the great apes, elephants, rhinos and tigers, we need not zoos, but the commitment of African governments against poaching and habitat encroachment. Tough sanctions against Asian countries that consume much of the odious trafficking in wild animal parts wouldn’t hurt. Wouldn’t hurt either to show some compassion for the starving people who rely on animal abuse for their income. South Asia’s illiterate Kalandars—nomads—have for generations earned a living training sloth bears to dance, an activity licensed until 20 years ago. I don’t suppose they ever contemplated animal rights. Some organizations are trying to raise money to buy their bears, or retrain Kalandars for other work, but many have simply switched to performing monkeys instead.

There is scant evidence that breeding in captivity helps. Zookeepers have a limited pool and often the mating is unsuccessful or the offspring don’t survive very long. Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park Zoo has just adopted an 11-month-old orphaned polar bear for its new International Polar Bear Conservation Centre. That seems humane, but is it? The orphaned polar bear will live in captivity on display all its life, never roaming across great expanses of snow. Would natural death in the wild have been better?

Perhaps the urban zoo should be replaced by species zoos that don’t try to cover every inch of the animal kingdom, but concentrate on animals that can thrive in a given climate. I don’t know the answer, but I know that Canada currently has nothing to be proud of in her zoos. As for me, I grow more eccentric every day. Last night I watched a wood beetle walking across my bathroom floor. Perhaps once I might gave killed it. Now I watch the tremendous effort it takes to cross that expanse, pausing when its antennae tell it that I am close and then bravely marching on. It is a Herculean effort, one that few humans will ever match and, truth to be told, I’m on the wood beetles’ side.

Have a comment to share? barbara.amiel@macleans.rogers.com




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The shame of zoos

  1. I agree with most of the sentiments but as a journalist you ought to get simple facts straight. Lucy is not an African elephant.

    • semantics aside, Amiel’s piece is spot-on.

      Edmonton Zoo veterinarian Milton Ness is deluding himself while attempting to defend the indefensible.

      • I’m very pleased with what she wrote. Her whims seem to have flip-flopped onto the side on the animals.
        Amiel felt quite strongly in a previous column that Darwin the macaque should go back to living in diapers and costumes as someone’s surrogate human baby rather than stay in a primate sanctuary where he could behave more naturally and interact with others of his kind. If you can find a meaningful difference between the situations of Darwin and Lucy, I’d be interested to hear it.
        Regarding the zoo staff, delusion is pretty understandable. I think when you have made a profession of what you believe is ‘caring for’ the animals, it’s not the easiest thing to see yourself as being a part of a miserable environment for them even if it seems obvious to others. People tend to see what they want to see.

        • People tend to see what they want to see: especially when $$ is involved. Reflect on who has held captive animals throughout human history because otherwise they were and are destroyed for protection and as nuisances. And again we also hunt ourselves. We “the paragon of animals”

      • Agreed.
        Thanks for taking up the discussion, Barbara.
        I may not always agree with everything you write, but what you say here in this column bears repeating.

  2. Alberta will Retire lucy & shut down the Guzoo.

    It is the right thing to do:)

  3. Well said Ms. Amiel. Perhaps the older we age we understand how transient, less invincible, and vain we are. Funny how beetles figure in your observation. Next, puppy mills and aquariums. I might have added that we should be in cages as well but we do this all ready; and rather well. Do have a pleasant day

  4. Might I suggest reading Edmonton vet Debi Zimmermans report: One Veterinarian’s Search for Truth in the “Lucy the Elephant” Debate. Opened my eyes about Lucys sad situation and captive elephants in general.

      • If zoo check put this out it must be credible. They are the ones who screwed the pooch with the Toronto elephants. Zoocheck is as misinformed as the rest of the animal rights groups and only out to push their own agenda.

  5. Excellent piece Ms. Amiel. You could not have said it any better. And the public rarely sees (if ever) the indoor quarters in which most of the animals spend most of the time for most the year, lured with food back to their little cells when the zoo closes until morning. They only see the sad public outdoor and pavillion exhibits.

  6. Many thanks to Ms. Amiel for this article supporting the effort to have Lucy moved to a sanctuary. The zoo vet says their reason for refusing is that Lucy suffers respiratory problems but what logic is there in forcing Lucy to remain in a climate which worsens respiratory problems. Cold air keeps pollution close to ground level and is also hard to breathe even when it’s not polluted !!! People can help Lucy by going to the Save Lucy facebook page and signing the petition to allow an independent vet check.

    • For more information and to sign the petition, here are the two Lucy pages on Facebook:

      (1) Save Lucy the Elephant – need to request to join
      (2) Voice for Animals Humane Society – Edmonton

  7. Please let’s not forget poor Limba at the Bowmanville Zoological Park in Ontario.
    Limba, a 50 year old female Asian elephant, is the oldest in Canada and exploited year round for performances and other events. To learn more and support the effort to free Limba, go to Facebook page Bowmanville Zoological Park- Free Limba.

    • don’t forget the TB they will become infected with.. then they can have a dignified death too

    • I wish you could understand the lack of knowledge put into the move of the elephants at the Toronto zoo. the stress they were put under, being moved from the only home they have ever known, traveling 90 hours standing alone for the first time in their lives almost killed them. and for what? they had everything they needed at the zoo, and they were content, that’s all they have ever known. People see the negatives, like, there are tourists, and they aren’t in Africa, and Canada is cold, etc, but don’t care to look any further, and make rash decisions that cause more harm than good. I’m sure paws is a nice place, but transferring them there is enough stress to kill them. Elephants are very sensitive creatures, and decisions like that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

      • Amelia, the Toronto Zoo’s elephant enclosure was pathetic. Even the zoo agreed they didn’t have an adequate enclosure for them and decided to close their elephant exhibit. Why else would 4 elephants die there in 4 years? Toka, Thika and Iringa’s transport to PAWS was humane, professional and just fine. They made it safely and have all been thriving at PAWS since they arrived. And this continued garbage about TB at PAWS – Josh, do your own research instead of drinking the kool-aid, please. NO African elephant at PAWS has ever tested TB-reactive, and they’re separated from the Asians.

        • The city of Toronto actually decided the move was to happen, not the zoo. They polled veterinary professionals around the world at multiple zoos, and they agreed that it was a horrible idea to move the elephants. Its all fine and well they made it there safely, but was the risk really worth the outcome?

          • Sorry, Amelia, Google it – the Toronto Zoo BOARD voted in early 2011 to close its elephant exhibit. The City Council ultimately decided to send the girls to PAWS because the Zoo was incompetent at making a decision, and was only considering other inadequate AZA facilities.

          • you have got to be delusional!!!!

          • Yes it was worth the risk even if there had been any

          • do you seriously think there was no risk in that move? they could have died!

        • Well now, you forgot to mention that 6 elephants have died at Paws in the last 4 years, and some of them were never even tested for TB, two in fact, only got tested after they died. How many of the Asian elephants have never even been tested? TB is airborn and can be spread. I also heard a human that had connections to PAWS tested positive. You have no idea yet that the elephants are healty, they can still develop transport myopathy, Thika had developed a bad limp viewed in videotapes, etc. Before you comment, make sure you can back up your facts. I can

      • The Toronto Zoo elephants are exploring, eating well and thriving in the PAWS sanctuary, according to, well, everyone who has been following the move and their adjustment.
        The ‘only home they’ve ever known’ argument is not only wrong (only 1 was born in captivity) but strange… You’d not agree to move them no matter what? Because they haven’t known anything else? How bad would it have to get?
        You can’t possibly think the Toronto Zoo was meeting their needs.

        • The two older elephants were rescued from poachers as calves, and considering they are 44, it is safe to say they have accustomed themselves quite well to the, (i apologize for my poor choice in words, since we’re getting super picky here) the home they have known “most” of their lives.. I’m not saying that PAWS isn’t a suitable home for them by any stretch, rather, my point is that the risks far outweighed the benefits. Something could have been done to give them a larger enclosure, I’m also not trying to imply that the zoo is better than the wild, or has the most optimum conditions possible, but again, they were doing just fine before Bob Barker felt like waving money in the Toronto government’s face.

          • maybe its not just Rob Ford smoking crack … maybe the councillors who made this decision are smoking it too.. and needed the money to pay their dealers… ;)

          • the Toronto Zoo did not want or could not afford the REQUIRED improvements to keep the elephants so the elephants were either going to die in misery at the much criticized Toronto Zoo or be transported somewhere.

          • They were not doing just fine. Changes were needed; that how this whole thing started.
            Zoos move animals around in sales, loans and breeding programs but they only start squawking about risk when something other than a zoo is an option. The experts saying ‘horrible idea’ seem to have been wrong, and other experts seem to have been right. Maybe making a living promoting zoos interferes with one’s objectivity about zoos?
            I think there are some species for which a zoo can replicate a natural environment and allow a life somewhat similar to what the species evolved to live. I don’t think elephants are one of those animals, and not in Canada.
            No renovations would have provided the space available at PAWS, or change the climate, or prevent the necessity of the elephants living inside barns for much of the year. Worse, spending a truckload of money on the elephant enclosure would just perpetuate the acquisition of more elephants as those 3 died off. I don’t want elephants kept at the zoo at all, and neither do a lot of other Torontonians.

          • I understand animals are transferred all the time, however i am talking about the Toronto elephants in particular. It was suggested they fly there, but no, that was too much money, so they had to go through that truck ride, for the first time in their lives out of sight of the other ellies, standing for so long, in an environment they didn’t know. Elephants, as well as any animal can suffer from something called “capture myopathy”, it is where they are so stressed out, their heart basically stops working, and they die, and the trainers were severely concerned about this, and when they made it safely, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. It is bitter for their long time trainers to have to say goodbye, but in the end they love those elephants, they just wanted to see they made it there alive.
            PAWS isn’t some magical place where they are reintroduced to the wild, they are still in captivity, regardless of the extra acreage. I’m not doubting they don’t appreciate it, but my biggest argument is, did the risks outweigh the benefits. was moving them to a socially acceptable sanctuary that looks so great in the public’s eye really worth risking their lives? The people who said they didn’t like the idea are professionals. not members of the public. They understand the basic needs, and are able to outweigh the benefits, and dangers without getting personal on the subject. Canada isn’t all ice, and snow year round, if you are from Toronto you know that. The girls had adapted for so long, and the change is another additional stress some are worried about. And although they came from Sri Lanka, that is their natural habitat, elephants are equipped with extremely thick skin, and are able to fight off the cold, far more readily than they are the heat. they weren’t suffering.

          • Amelia, it was not public vs. professionals… it was public vs. public and professionals vs. professionals.
            You completely ignore what was written by veterinarians, animal behaviorists, and other experts who were in favour of the move. I don’t know why you ignore it, but I can only stress that the so-far successful relocation of the Toronto beasts has provided some insight into who really knows what they’re talking about. Lessons for the future.
            Elephant exhibits are being phased out at many facilities due in large part to the input of experts. This seems a good thing for elephants. I don’t much care if it’s a good thing for zoos.

          • Amelia, Lucy came from Sri Lanka. Toka and Iringa were stolen from Mozambique, Africa. Thika was born at the Toronto Zoo.

          • they were not stolen, they were rescued from poachers

          • Amelia, where on earth do you get your information? I’m really curious.
            The mothers of the 2 elephants were killed as part of a government cull, probably right in front of them, since mothers and their offspring at that age tend not to venture far from each other. Youngsters are spared because zoos will buy them.

          • I got it from a former staff member of the zoo, who has had information given to her first hand, and not filtered through gossip, or internet drama

  8. Edmonton’s zoo

  9. Lucy needs to be released to a sanctuary. Please, Edmonton Zoo, look into your hearts. Please.

  10. Thank you so much for writing and posting this article!!

  11. Thank you for writing and publishing this!

  12. Thank you for this story. Lucy is one of many suffering elephants whose incarceration is due to the great god Profit and its helpmate, Delusion. Lucy desperately needs sanctuary — as does Limba at the Bowmanville Zoo, Lucky in San Antonio, the elephants in the Seatlle and St Louis Zoos — and many, many more. Thank heaven that the press is paying attention. Public pressure must rise and then the Edmunton Zoo will have no choice but to Free Lucy. And then let the dominoes fall. ALL these captive creatures deserve to live their lives in peaceful natural surroundings and in the company of other elephants. Maybe we can even secure freedom for Mali in Manila and Tania in Romania.

  13. Thank you for this article and exposing the horror that exists for the unfortunate elephants housed in Canada’s zoos. Your remarks on Milton Ness are spot on. This man has no expertise in caring for elephants which is clear by his idiotic statements about Lucy’s attachment to humans. He and the Edmonton Valley Zoo are an embarrassment to Albertans and Canadians alike. Let’s hope this is the last year Lucy spends a winter in Canada and yes everyone please don’t forget poor Limba as well. She has it even worse than Lucy! https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=443024495819098&set=a.436824913105723.1073741828.436677946453753&type=1&theater

  14. So much has been learned about the life of elephants in the wild. To think that a zoo is a proper environment for Elephants is ridiculous. I cry each time I think of the sad lives of Lucy and Limba. We need to remove them from the zoo and send them to a better place as soon as possible. Do not wait any longer. Their lives are ticking away. Thank you.

  15. Every once in a while, I agree with Barbara Amiel. I agree with her on this. The zoo veterinarian is indeed deluding himself, and the public, while attempting to defend the indefensible. Does Lucy have a respiratory problem? Perhaps veterinarians NOT paid by the zoo could examine her? Pulmonary disease can be caused by the type of environment and closed conditions that Lucy has been kept in. I am not sure how moving her would endanger her life – but keeping her there is no life whatsoever.
    Please let Lucy go to an elephant sanctuary.

  16. In
    Defense of Animals (IDA), an international animal protection
    organization with more than 100,000 members, released its list of the
    Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants for 2012. IDA’s list, now in its ninth
    year, once again exposes the suffering endured by elephants in zoos.

    1. Edmonton Valley Zoo, Alberta, Canada – As Bad as It Gets

    The Edmonton Valley Zoo remains intransigent in its selfish will to
    condemn an elephant named Lucy to a life of solitary confinement. The
    zoo sent another elephant away in 2007, forcing Lucy to endure a life of
    utter loneliness in a tiny exhibit. This is cruel punishment for
    profoundly social female elephants. Despite worldwide outrage over
    Lucy’s plight, the zoo continues to allow Lucy to languish in immense
    psychological and physical pain. Lucy displays abnormal behavior, such
    as rocking and swaying, and suffers from chronic arthritis and foot
    problems. Lucy also reportedly struggles with a respiratory problem, almost
    certainly caused by Alberta’s bitterly cold climate. It’s time for the
    zoo to put Lucy’s needs first and send her to a natural-habitat
    sanctuary in a warmer climate to enjoy the company of other elephants.
    This is Edmonton Valley Zoo’s third appearance on IDA’s list.

    http://www.idausa.org/campaigns/wild-free2/elephant-protection/hall-of-shame/2012-ten-worst-zoos-for-elephants/

  17. I’m on the wood beetles’ side too! Get rid of the horrible zoo jails!!! And stop the destruction the the animals environments! Free this poor captive elephant!!! Send Lucy to sanctuary now!!!

    • Great news for the wood beetles! your going to tear down your house and give it back its habitat, oh your not are you

      • nor are you going to “free your dog or cat, or budgie or gold fish etc etc….

        • no, I’m not ~ but that is what PeTA wants! PeTA, is well-known for wanting nothing less than eradication of *all* pets and companion animals, not to mention forcing a vegan diet on everyone. PeTA’s belief that animals would be “better off dead” than risk suffering at the hands of humans is truly frightening.

  18. A video is worth a thousand words…Poor
    Lucy suffers from arthritis which is exacerbated by cold temperatures.
    Another Canadian winter like this is about to start. Let’s please keep
    working together to get her out of there.

    This video was uploaded to YouTube by Zoocheck’s Julie Woodyer.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcqF1aY3Rgo

    • If what you claim about videos being worth a thousand words is true then the paws videos of the TZ girls limping around confirms what’s been said all along – that ridiculously long trip standing practically immobilized in a small crate on the back of a truck has taken its toll on the 3 ladies and they suffered, and still are, because of it. They should have either been flown there or sent to Florida to minimize time spent under so much physical and emotional stress.

  19. Please do the right thing and get her to a sanctuary !

  20. Wow Barbara, this is a wonderful article. You have almost redeemed yourself in my eyes for the article you wrote supporting Darwin the IKEA monkey being returned to his previous, attention seeking, selfish, egomaniacal owner.
    Thanks for this. Canadians need to grasp this information and start fighting to bring Canada out of the dark ages. No more gladiators, no more performing circus animals, no more whales jumping in the air in the equivalent of a bathtub and no more zoos.

  21. Let the poor animal go. Zoos only teach our children that restricting the life and happiness of another is fine, as long as it provides entertainment. Let Lucy go.

  22. Limba News on Facebook – Bowmanville Zoological Park- Free Limba

    “We’re thrilled to announce that Limba has been
    removed from this year’s Santa Claus Parade. We look forward to now
    attending this event, which will involve only willing participants.
    Thanks to everybody who spoke up for her and for those who could have
    potentially been harmed by having a wild animal at such a boisterous
    event.”

    Along with articles like Ms. Amiel’s, your emails to this horrible facility protesting Limba’s treatment are having an effect. Keep sending those emails to the zoo !!!

    Zoo email: info@bowmanvillezoo.com
    Zoo on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BowmanvilleZoo

    • I too have contacted both the zoo and the organizers and made it clear that it is a shame Limba can’t be part of the community’s celebration because of the fear mongering. She enjoys interacting with the people in her community and now she’s not able to do that. To even suggest that she’s going to kill someone at a parade is ludicrous and delusional. Anyone who has met Limba and spent any time with her (I have!) knows how well cared for she is and how happy she is interacting with her human friends, and she has many. Being an armchair critic is easy but actually basing a decision on nothing but hearsay is unintelligent at best.

      • Can you say bullhook? Limba is controlled and manipulated by an instrument of torture – never are her handlers without it when in her presence. And as an animal controlled by a weapon in the hand of her captors … please enlighten me how Limba “enjoys” it.

        Also, research on how an elephant is prepared and trained to give “rides” which Limba is forced to do in parking lots in Bowmanville and other venues in the area. In her past, she was forced to endure excessive cruelty from the hands of humans wielding bullhooks.

        Limba is part of a cruel sideshow pretending to be at best a roadside zoo.

        • Lucy is also controlled by this inhumane method which many zoos have long ago abandoned.

      • You are ridiculous. Bowmanville zoo, bah you make me ashamed to be from Ontario. Sorry your kids can’t languish in the elephants misery this year ,might have to teach them something educational instead.

  23. I like your article, but it is really important to acknowledge the difference between keeping certain far-ranging species in captivity and other species. Some animals fare much better in captivity than others. There is no zoo on earth that can accommodate the needs of dolphins, whales, elephants and some species of bears, for example, while certain other animals do not have nearly the same degree of trouble adapting.

  24. Edmonton Zoo veterinarian Milton Ness needs to go spend 6 years with only elephants as companion, then can he come back and tell us how that evens out?

  25. Wow Barbara,

    you took the words right out of my mouth and put them on paper better than I ever could. How can anyone say that Ness now, “Loves human beings instead”? She may welcome them – but what happens when they go home to their families? What happens when she is alone through the long nights?

    It reminds me of the man that said he liked to keep his horse alone because, “Then he greets me and waits for me and does what I want.” Sure, because you have deprived him of his herd, his own species. This is cruelty.

    Do any of these people responsible for animals in captivity actually sit in a corner and observe for a full 24 hours? If they did, they would notice the lack of anything natural in the lives of these animals. They would see that they have deprived them of a reason to live. Keeping animals in zoos is unbearable to me and it needs to stop.

  26. Thank you for this article, Barbara. One thing, though: Lucy is an Asian elephant, not African. She was born in Sri Lanka and stolen from the wild as a calf. The long list of valid reasons Lucy needs to be moved to a warm-climate sanctuary like PAWS include Edmonton’s cold winter climate, Lucy’s isolation from her own species which is critical to a female elephant’s psychological and emotional health, her arthritis and foot issues caused by years of standing on hard substrates, her small, outdated and inadequate cell, and the lack of proper veterinary care due to the fact that the Valley Zoo does not employ a qualified elephant specialist (Milton Ness is a dog and cat vet). The very least the Valley Zoo can do for Lucy is to permit an outside, independent panel of qualified elephant veterinarians and experts to examine Lucy, but so far they stubbornly refuse. Why? Because they claim she has some undiagnosed ‘respiratory problem’ that prevents her transfer to a sanctuary – yet they won’t let anyone else examine her to either confirm or refute that. The way the zoo is hanging on to Lucy is repugnant, and the world is watching. As a Canadian, I’m ashamed.

      • Caro, please read my comment an hour ago about Oosterhuis. He’s notorious for pimping himself out to any zoo to say whatever they want about their elephant(s) that they don’t want to transfer to a sanctuary.

        • And the same can be said for Mel Richardson with any anti-zoo organization including a certain sanctuary who dropped out of a lawsuit because it was proved they paid him for his testimony.

      • Google Oosterhuis, he is not well respected in the elephant community. Before they moved Maggie from Alaska, the city hired a dozen experts to evaluate her fitness to make the trip to PAWS. Only one said she wasn’t able to go, that was Oosterhuis. This is why the Edmonton Zoo hired him, they wanted the same opinion. Maggie was transferred successfully years ago and is thriving. She was one of the elephants trumpeting greetings to the Toronto girls.

    • Here we go again Lori with your insinuations, half truths, and downright lies. Lucy does have excellent care and you have been attacking Dr. Milton Ness for years now and its bordering on libel, yes he does have his own practice but what of his other qualifications? Lucy has had independent outside vets in to examine her, you know this but then run them into the ground too because they’re not a chosen vet of the ARists who would say what the ARists want him/her to say. Her respiratory problem was diagnosed by an outside experienced elephant vet but you and your group dismissed him as “useless”. All you are concerned with is your own ideaologies and you couldn’t care less if she died in transport as long as you can crow “we won”. Also all the hate mail which Dr. Ness has been getting, that is lower than low. As a Canadian I’m ashamed of you.

      • Chromick, you’re verging on libel by saying I’m lying. You’ve already been warned and tossed off FB for your libel – I suggest you don’t push me unless you want to risk losing everything you own because I have a damn good lawyer.

        • Guest? I don’t think I read anywhere that Allynn Chromick said you (guest) were lying or anyone else for that matter. You have a lawyer? Do you need one? Why? Are you in the habit of slagging other people’s opinions when they don’t agree with yours? Your “damn good” lawyer should tell you that you are as much at fault as anyone else and wouldn’t win such a case in any court.

      • And that so-called independent outside vet is Oosterhuis, who is shunned and disrespected by every other decent elephant expert. He thought that tying Dunda down by all four legs and beating her on the head with ax handles for 2 days was “appropriate”. He also said Maggie would die if she was moved from the Alaska Zoo – ten other vets disagreed with him and when she was on death’s doorstep in ’07 and had collapsed twice, she was safely moved to PAWS and has thrived there ever since. Shows you just how much Oosterhuis knows, and this quack is the one who is now saying Lucy can’t be moved. Because the Valley Zoo is PAYING him to say that.

        • Oosterhuis is the vet that recommended that the Alaska zoo build a giant treadmill for Maggie instead of moving her to a sanctuary. The idiot is supposed to be an expert yet he didn’t know that elephants are VERY sensitive to ground vibrations, and are very careful where they place their huge bodies?! They HATE the sound and vibration of something like a treadmill?! She NEVER used it. Thank goodness the Alaska zoo came to their senses and Maggie is now enjoying life at the PAWS Sanctuary in California.

      • And I’m equally ashamed of you, Chromick.

      • And to make this perfectly clear, I have never once contacted Milton Ness in any way. Never would. We don’t have anything personal against him; we just have the smarts to realize and point out that he’s not medically qualified to care for an elephant. Tell me, Allynn, how many other pachyderms has he treated?

      • As a Canadian and an Edmontonian, I am ashamed of you and your callous regard for our elephants. You put your own selfish needs ahead of them. How do you deny that the elephants are better off at PAWS? Yes I’m sure the journey was difficult but they made it safely and are in a huge warm sanctuary.. They no longer spend 75% of their life on cold concrete that is damaging to their feet. Why do you think PAWS has padded floors in their indoor enclosure. Elephant foot problems are the most common cause of death for captive pachyderms.. As far as Lucy goes she has not been assessed by anyone outside beside Oosterhuis. Why is it so wrong to want an eassessment done by an expert that isn’t mired in controversy like Ooseterhuis? As a Respiratory Therapist myself I know that a lack of exercise and a cold climate always aggravate breathing conditions. It’s common sense really. As far as Ness goes, he is an embarrassment to the Edmonton Zoo and is a poor respresentative of your side. His arguments about Lucy loving her human family are absurd.

    • Lucy has adapted to the “cold winter climate” her entire life. Actually changing this, and bringing her to PAWS would be extremely stressful, as this is all she has ever known. Elephants are actually more prone to suffer hyperthermia, rather than hypothermia. The Canadian winters aren’t doing her any harm, her skin is actually about an inch thick, and she is more than equipped to do just fine, as she has been her whole life. Furthermore, I find it insulting you think a small animal vet isn’t qualified to work on an elephants, as they have most of the same systems, just on a larger scale, and if this vet has experience working with elephants, i don’t see the problem. An elephant specialist isn’t required to examine a respiratory issue, as these translate between species quite readily. If they don’t feel it is safe for her to be transferred, you should become educated on the subject and listen to them. The amount of stress moving elephants to sanctuaries left right and center is so tremendous, and took the elephants in Toronto two years to prepare for the severe stress they were put under. When they say Lucy is not healthy enough to be moved, they mean she will most likely die if she is moved. Is that the ideal outcome you were looking for?

      • Sorry, Amelia, I really don’t know where to begin because your comment is absurd. It didn’t take the Toronto elephants 2 years to prepare; it was the stalling/sabotage tactics of the Toronto Zoo, their keepers and supporters that delayed their transfer. If you didn’t follow that issue from the start in May 2011 like we did, please educate yourself. And you need to understand evolution and biology – Lucy was born in Sri Lanka and is descended from Sri Lankan elephants. Sri Lanka is a tropical country near the equator. Millions of years of evolution designed her body for a tropical climate, not our bitterly cold winters here in Canada. The whole “respiratory issue” the Valley Zoo claims is likely just an excuse concocted as their reason to keep her in slavery, all alone, until she dies. If I were Lucy – and I most certainly do have empathy for her and I put myself in her place – I would take the chance on traveling to a sanctuary. If I were her, trapped for 37 years at the Valley Zoo with no hope of getting out, I’d be wishing I was dead.

        • If we are talking about how absurd the others comments are i could go on for hours about you. so I’m not even going to touch it. If you think “stalling/sabotage tactics” were used, than you truly don’t understand what they went through on the road. They were preparing them for the hardest journey of their lives, and if they were unprepared they could easily freak out, and kill themselves, which is the last thing MOST people want. (excluding you of course, who finds it only acceptable if you get your way, rather than looking for the best interest of the animals).
          I really dont need to further educate myself of evolution and biology, but good on you for googling where they came from, and trying to rub it in my face as though i cant make a valid opinion without that knowledge (which i was already fully aware of)
          Not everything is a conspiracy theory. You just have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that you could actually be wrong. It is such an animal rights thing to make the negatives so over exaggerated. How is she in slavery? please enlighten me on your google findings (after all, everything you read on the internet is true)
          And finally, it is nice to see where your head is. As i thought, you would rather her be dead. You just proved my point that you only care about being right or wrong, and getting your way, regardless of the costs.

          • Don’t put words in my mouth. Reread my comment, especially my last two sentences. I never said I would rather her be dead. I said if I were Lucy, I would take the chance on traveling to a sanctuary, and I said ” If I were her, trapped for 37 years at the Valley Zoo with no hope of getting out, I’d be wishing I was dead.” Can you even imagine the hell that Lucy’s existence is for her?

    • How can so many people judge when you do not know the full story?!?!! Lucy has been seen by ‘outside’ zoo vets and specialists, as well as her case consulted on by even MORE than that. She has been deemed unfit for transport as the stress would likely cause death due to her respiratory disease (which has been diagnosed contradicting your assumptions). She is stable, happy, and as healthy as any very geriatric Asian elephant can be, Her other medical problems have significantly improved since Dr. Ness started working at the zoo. She has an amazing support team, exercise facilities, and standard of care. Veterinary education and continuing education programs are very intensive. Rest assured that Canadian veterinarians, whether it be a zoo, small animal, or mixed vet, are some of the best trained in the world. I’m proud of the hard work and improvements of Dr. Ness as he establishes a better environment with better animal welfare at the Edmonton Zoo.

      • The problem is, supporter of Lucy, that I DO know the full story. Tell me about Dr. Ness’s qualifications as an elephant specialist? Maybe you could also provide any – any – documentation the Valley Zoo has disclosed that even hints at a definitive medical diagnosis of Lucy? Why do you think they say only that Lucy supposedly has a mysterious “respiratory condition” that they have never ONCE diagnosed? Did you know they used an inadequate, makeshift device to examine the inside of her trunk? They won’t let any real elephant veterinarians examine her. Doesn’t that make you question why? And there certainly are good Canadian veterinarians; I’m a Canadian too, and very glad that the excellent Edmonton veterinarian Dr. Debi Zimmermann wrote this report about Lucy, which negates the nonsense the Valley Zoo says about her:
        http://www.zoocheck.com/reportPDFs/ZimLucyReportJune2009.pdf

        • Zoocheck will do anything to get animals for that private zoo in California. It wouldn’t surprise me if they paid for that report you admire so much. They certainly paid Susan Cork for her rushed report that was given to the Toronto council and actually edited it in their favour. If you saw the entire unedited report you’d know she had some concerns about sending the TZ girls there.

          • Zoocheck is a nonprofit organization. So is PAWS – they’re actually a 4-star charity, the highest rating, on charitynavigator.com. And PAWS is not a private zoo, it’s a highly respected sanctuary. Why would you be against a sanctuary that gives elephants vast space to roam and exercise natural behaviors like grazing, browsing, knocking down trees, mud-wallowing, and swimming, plus a warmer climate, freedom of choice, elephant companionship, protected contact with no use of bullhooks, excellent vet care, 24/7 monitoring, and nutritious food – in favor of an antiquated, cold-climate zoo that has caused Lucy’s obesity, arthritis, foot issues, depression, and stereotypy?

        • I really shouldn’t even be bothering to stoop to this level to argue with a woman who clearly has no medical knowledge in veterinary medicine. But I will point out that there is documentation, in the form of a medical record, which is confidential information. This makeshift device (a respiratory tract scope) was engineered because that’s what zoo vet med is all about, adapting the equipment we have to a whole range of species. Trust me, her care is excellent. I think it would be useless to try to explain the condition to you as you have proven to disagree with any truths. The zoo has talked to many elephant specialists. Obviously, you do not understand what it means to be a veterinarian- trained to work with ANY species. A zoo does not employ a different vet for each different species. One vet is sufficient in the size of Edmonton zoo. Within the zoo community, the vets consult with each other ALL the time! They travel to other zoos to help with cases, because what’s important is the animals’ health and welfare. Please put your energy into fighting an important cause, such as raising awareness of the depleting numbers of Asian elephants in the wild, or the fact that rhinos may be extinct in the wild within the next decade. Lucy is in great hands! I support Lucy and Dr. Ness fully.

          • wonderfully worded, you are absolutely right! vet medicine is about adapting to different species, and especially in exotics, there isn’t a huge market for elephant sized tools (eg. Respiratory tract scopes), so they use the information they have to perform the same task as safely and effectively as possible.

          • Lucy is not a human being with a right to medical privacy and confidentiality like people have. There’s no legitimate reason for the Valley Zoo to keep Lucy’s medical record “confidential information”. Other zoos have made their elephants’ medical records available to the public. Why is the Valley Zoo so secretive? Why do they refuse to provide a definitive diagnosis for Lucy’s supposed respiratory condition? Maybe it’s because they’re lying??? And except for the questionable Oosterhuis, they even refuse to disclose a list of the names of other vets they’ve supposedly consulted about Lucy’s health. Why??? That’s not normal, it’s not acceptable, and you can bet that a zoo that is so secretive actually doesn’t have a leg to stand on with the nonsense claims they make. And I do put energy into the wild Asian (and African) elephants, and rhinos – why would you assume I don’t? Btw, looking at Milton Ness’s FB page, he sure takes a lot of vacations. Who is looking after Lucy when he’s away? A vet tech?

          • animals most certainly have the right to the same level of confidentiality that humans have, especially so people like you don’t run to conclusions, when its none of their business. And whats so wrong with a vet tech might i ask? animals don’t need constant veterinary supervision, you are asking such absurd things of these people. is he not allowed to take vacations? how is that any of your business? keep your nose where it belongs, out of other’s facebook pages.

          • No, they don’t, Amelia. Or haven’t you heard? Animals have NO rights, just the way you people seem to want it. But since they have no rights, then they also have NO right to medical privacy like humans do. Please quote me either the Alberta provincial or Canadian federal law stating that nonhuman animals have a right to medical privacy. And you never addressed my points – WHY won’t the Valley Zoo release Lucy’s medical records or a list of all the vets they’ve supposedly consulted about Lucy? Why?

          • As someone who works in the veterinary field, yes, it is private information. and don’t say “you people” like I am okay with animals having no rights, i think you are forgetting that we are both in favor of the animal’s well being, the difference being, i dont find it necessary to completely uproot these animals because you are a little uncomfortable with the way some things have to be done. Cutting others down doesn’t make you smarter, or any less wrong. I actually DID tell you why they didn’t release them, you just disregarded my reply, and went on this rant about laws. so WHY do you keep hounding me? why? WHY? WHY LORI?! omg woman

      • Sorry you have all the facts wrong. Not even worth responding to you. Time to do some research before speaking.

        • time for you to get informed of the truths, rather than deluding yourself and others. I implore all those who want to learn the real story to go out there and become informed! Don’t take what is said on the internet by anti-zoo advocates as the truth because it is not.

    • I would agree to an outside, independent panel of qualified elephant veterinarians and experts ONLY if they have nothing to do with zoocheck or any of the other “better off dead than captive bred” so called charities such as PETA, IDA, or Bornfree. We all know those organizations pay their “experts” for siding with them.

      • Just curious – who are you to “agree” to anything related to Lucy unless, of course, you are an elected official in Edmonton or senior zoo staff at the Edmonton Valley Zoo?

        • And who are you to proclaim you know it all when it comes to elephants as evidenced by your posts? I agree on one point – if you don’t live in the vicinity you should have no right to impose your opinion. Sadly that didn’t happen in my home town when the outsiders barraged social media and news articles with their holier than thou views about what was best for animals they’d never seen or visited. It won’t be any different with Lucy, Limba, the ALS elephants or any other elephants living in facilities that don’t have the word sanctuary in the name.

    • Oosterhuis is the vet that recommended the Alaska zoo build a giant treadmill for Maggie instead of moving her to a sanctuary. Idiot didn’t know that elephants are VERY sensitive to ground vibrations, and are very careful where they place their
      SUV-sized bulk?! They HATE the sound and vibration of something like a treadmill?! She NEVER used it. Thank goodness the Alaska zoo came to their senses and Maggie is now enjoying life at the PAWS Sanctuary in California.

  27. This “sanctuary” that the Toronto Zoo elephants have been sent to, have Tuberculosis. It isn’t a claim, it is fact. http://zoosmatter.com Also, Toronto also has sun and hot weather, just as Florida does, where the Toronto Zoo wanted to send the Toronto 3 to originally.

    Irregardless of the claims from “activists”, modern zoos *are* of utmost importance for conservation; not only do they serve as, yes, education and breeding of endangered species, but also protecting their spaces. Toronto Zoo has successfully helped educate people about the destructive nature of the palm oil industry. I don’t see PeTA and their ilk doing so. Modern zoos, such as Toronto, also are involved in rescuing individual animals, from lions, wombats and polar bears.

    And yes, Lucy is an Asian elephant. True journalists do their research before they print a story.

    • This comment was deleted.

      • Oye, yes, dreadful me, educating people about why breed specific legislation is animal cruelty, volunteering at the SPCA. And yes, breeding does help endangered species, genetic diversity is important. The zoo has rescued lions from being kept in a basement, and the wombats and bears were orphans, just like the grizzlies were. Also a number of unreleasable birds after having been injured were taken in by the zoo. They get the best of care at the zoo, but enjoy your ignorance.

        • Oye yes, but that is not an impressive animal protectionist bio. Yup. we all fought against BSL but it still exists. The SPCA has a shaky reputation at best! And exactly how does forced breeding help endangered animals? Genetic diversity for what purpose? Certainly not a return to the wild, so just more zoos? I doubt some of your other statements but I am sure if the Toronto Wildlife Centre sends birds to the Toronto Zoo and The Aspen Valley rescue sends orphaned bears to them then I will have to believe you, but still however don’t expect the best care given the zoos record, How many lions being kept in basements did the zoo rescue now that is interesting

        • Dreadful Meaghan, do you not have anything better to do than stew in your own bitterness over losing the Toronto ellies, and spread your lies about PAWS everywhere? The Zoos Matter blog is a bunch of bat-sh*t crazy loons who have waged a phony smear campaign against PAWS using outright lies and making libelous claims. You really should take the lampshade off your head and leave that party.

          • Really The government documentation about TB at PAWS speaks for it self.

          • That so-called “documentation” was pieced together by Lisa Sawyer, who has NO background or training whatsoever in elephant biology or infectious disease. And, she intentionally twisted it, with pertinent info missing, and grossly exaggerated the situation at PAWS. PAWS should sue her for libel; they would win.

          • FOIAs and documents gathered over thousands of hours of research are not lies, just facts. And genetic diversity is important to keep the species going; may I ask, what have you done for the Vancouver Island Marmots?

          • Meaghan, read my other comment about the so-called twisted research you’re talking about. You might have also noticed that those people (which includes you) have no credibility with anyone. It was getting hilarious to read all the griping posts in ZM about how the media, government agencies and politicians were all ignoring you. That’s because they recognize BS when they see it. And I advocate for elephants, marine mammals and dogs. You have to pick your battles; I’d rather be able to be knowledgeable about the species I advocate for, and have more time to spend on those, than to be all over the place and ineffective. No one person can do it all. I spend at least 10 hours a day, most days, working for wild and captive elephants. What have YOU done for elephants lately?

          • You are waging your own bat-sh*t crazy loon war waging your own phony smear campaign using your own outright lies and making your own libelous claims. Your elevator is not going to the top floor.

            If you can smear people with your BS so can others smear you. How does it feel? You have no healthy respect for others who’s opinions do not agree with yours. Instead you try to paint them as unintelligent and stupid. You choose not to believe the factual evidence of the sneakiness and collusion and underhandedness between zoocheck and the Toronto city council. It’s all there on the Zoos Matter blog for anyone who cares to check it out. BUT that is your right if you so choose and you can have any opinion you want. You just don’t have the right belittle others who do not agree with you.

          • Sorry anyone who loves animals and has credibility would not cite zoomatters. None of us would waste our time with their self serving zoo promotion drivel.

        • What you need to do now, Meaghan dear, you and your gang, is start cleaning up the zoo. Not tomorrow, not next week. NOW. Tell me, do the hippos that live under the ex elephant exhibit have any water in their cave? I doubt it. There is clearly no natural light as it’s underground. Are they left to languish on a slab on concrete like the Indian rhino’s 3 season isolation cell? She doesn’t even have a straw bed. How did these abysmal exhibits get AZA accreditation. Hmmm, perhaps that speaks to AZA standards. So you lock those miserable sumatran tigers up in that tiny outhouse-sized concrete block at 4 p.m. until when, 8:30 a.m.? (and please stop breeding them as how you display the mother and cubs is not acceptable.) The list could go on and on. And what happens to all the offspring of the many smaller creatures that breed. Do you euthanize the surplus? So many questions. Time to open the doors and show us EVERYTHING.

      • Are you serious? Rowdy (a TZ lion) was rescued from life spent entirely in someone’s garage. Inuckshuk, Aurora and Nakita (polar bears) were rescued as orphans when their mothers were shot by hunters. Don’t be so ridiculous and naive.

        • ridiculous perhaps, naive no way! If you really care about animals do you really believe that those animals have a good life imprisoned in a third rate zoo. Given a choice they may prefer death

    • Death toll at Toronto Zoo. Says it all.

      “Since 1984, seven elephants died at the Toronto Zoo. None lived
      beyond age 40, though elephants have a natural life span of 60-70 years.

      Five elephants were imported from Mozambique and were in the first group of elephants at the exhibit including:

      Tara – 2009 , age 40, cause unknown

      Tessa – 2009, age 40, injury when knocked over by exhibit mate

      Tequila – 2008 age 38, cause unknown

      Patsy – 2006 age 39, euthanized due to arthritis

      Tantor – 1989 age 20, anesthesia related

      The death toll includes two elephants born at the zoo:

      Toronto – 1994 age 10, salmonella

      TW – 1984, age 2 days.”

      http://www.helpelephants.com/toronto_zoo_fact_sheet.html

    • It is not a fact and since you cite your source as zoomatters you have blown your credibility on this. Zoo lover. Btw, irregardless is not a word!

    • Anyone who quotes zoosmatter as a source, has lost all credibility and is only defending greed and the profit made at an animal’s expense. Shame on you for promoting exploitation of these beautiful majestic animals!

  28. First of all Lucy is an Asian elephant. This alone shows me that you have not fact checked anything. Paws has Tb in their Asian elephant herd which is antibiotic resistant. Elephants die of TB. The elephant Sanctuary cannot accept more elephants due to USDA restrictions since they are not able to do basic husbandry with them. 7 elephants have died at Paws. 0 in Edmonton who is doing a better job?

    • The ongoing diatribe against sanctuaries is growing rather tedious especially given that TB exists throughout the captive elephant system in North America – it is not restricted to sanctuaries as some would try to depict. TB has resulted in reported elephant deaths at St. Louis Zoo, Smithsonian Zoo (where Calgary’s three elephants are being moved imminently), Cole Brothers Circus, Tarzan Zerbini Circus, Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus, Los Angeles Zoo, St. Louis Zoo, San Francisco Zoo, Little Rock Zoological Gardens, Two Tails Ranch and undoubtedly others that have not been reported (or potentially known). And the fact that the zoos trade their elephants around constantly, shifting them from one zoo/circus to another despite science saying that is completely unnatural for them, only further heightens the possibility of further spread of TB. Yet they continue this trading practice with little or no regard for the animals in their “collections” – all the time touting conservation. In truth it is only conservation of their collections and not conservation of the species as these animals will never be returned to their natural habitats – merely born into lives of imprisonment.

      Yes, elephants have died at PAWS. However, it is important to note that PAWS offers permanent homes to all elephants and many are older and ailing (used up by a system that doesn’t want them anymore) – so it only stands to reason that there will be deaths. Once at PAWS, an elephant will never again be subjected to being traded and shuttled to other locations, torn from those they know, or placed in inhospitable environments – they are home, a forever home that is created for them and not for curious human sightseeing and bottom-line corporations.

      • Well-said, EleAmie, and to add to your list of zoos with TB, don’t forget that at the Oregon Zoo, Rama has active TB and Packy has latent TB. The entire herd is actually at risk. Zoos and circuses are TB petri dishes for TB in elephants. Anyone who attacks the sanctuaries because they have compassionately taken in old, sick and needy elephants who may have been exposed to TB, without also acknowledging the multitude of zoos with TB-exposed elephants is simply ignorant and/or anti-sanctuary.

      • And when any of the 3 TZ girls happen to die at that private zoo we ALL know it won’t be PAWS fault will it? It will somehow, some way be blamed on the Toronto Zoo. I will blame many people when (not if) it happens and there won’t be anyone from the Toronto Zoo on the list.

        • Truth be told – PAWS is not a “private zoo”, it is a sanctuary that is accredited by the Global Federation of Sanctuaries – so don’t suggest anything otherwise. Accredited sanctuaries have very clear guidelines and a set of standards that exceed those of zoos, among them is that they do not breed animals in their care so that they can create more animals to live out their lives in impoverished environments for human profit.

          And, you are correct, the Toronto girls will at some point die at PAWS because they will never be subjected to the numerous and self-serving moves that take place within the AZA accredited animal trading system. The Toronto girls are now home!

          As to blame when that sad day does happen (many of us hoping decades from now) – I can only anticipate that those that fought so vehemently and viciously against the move will be again casting negative aspersions at PAWS – and these new aspersions will have the same validity as all that have been thrown at them in the past – none!

          • hmmm are you not aware that paws founded the GFAS? Must be nice to establish your own rules and even nicer not to follow them. Who’s going to slap your wrists? Yourself? Truth be told IF those girls survive the trauma caused by their horrendous trip to California they will become bored to tears and fat from all the treats given as reward for being poster girls for the rich and famous public events at this private zoo. They don’t walk the fence line because it’s fun. They may have 80 acres to “roam” but they don’t use it, ever. A look at any of the photos and videos show the worn down paths are beside the fence with not one going up a hill.

          • Honestly – your assertions need to be backed with some evidence – none has been forthcoming to date. And as to your statements about PAWS – have you been there, actually seen the elephants and their movements in the 80 acre habitat or are you just using google to look at pictures … hardly scientific or informed.

            Oh, and the horrendous trip you are referring to – I think it important to mention that the trip was lengthened by a minimum of 10 hours due to last minute wrangling at the Toronto Zoo in an effort to delay the move … 10 extra hours added by those that have the audacity to claim they care about the elephants – sheesh!

          • The Toronto Zoo keepers and management pulled dirty tricks the day the elephants were to leave, and they’re responsible for the girls spending 10 hours in their crates before getting on the road. I honestly think those people were intentionally stressing the elephants and hoping the girls would die en route. They had lost the elephants so their true natures came out in their last-minute, deliberate attempts to sabotage the transfer.

          • Honestly? Well, that’s a double edged sword isn’t it now? Of course I haven’t been to PAWS because as previously stated it is a private zoo for the rich and famous. The average person cannot afford the hefty admission fees that they choose to call donations. Have you visited any zoo lately? Or do you just google pictures and videos to make your own assumptions? Yes, very scientifically informed.

            That extra 10 hours zoo delay argument is getting old. Why do you choose to ignore the fact that AE knew about the CFIA inspection weeks in advance, AE chose not to address the concerns pointed out to them by the CFIA, AE knew the CFIA would be there because they had not yet addressed those concerns? AE could have avoided that moving day inspection if they’d complied with the CFIA requirements. They have no one to blame but themselves. If I can research that and find the facts with no trouble why can’t you? And you claim you care about the elephants – pffffft!

          • Again – PAWS is not a “private zoo” – zoos breed and trade their animals (errr, sorry, their collections – heaven forbid they acknowledge that the animals in their care are living, sentient beings) and PAWS does neither. And their admission fee is $50 on designated days and Toronto Zoo admission fee for one day is $28 – so hardly a “hefty” difference. So again, your exaggerated claims are exposed – TruthBTold!

            The delay argument is getting old – really? In my opinion, old is the trumped up and exaggerated fear mongering regarding TB that has been going on for far too long … by non-qualified, self-appointed (or is it self-annointed) experts. Anyway, back to CFIA!

            Where was CFIA when Limba’s trailer tipped over or started on fire? Uhhh nowhere to be seen – why is that? I hope they are there to oversee Limba’s grueling circus tour next year since they have a new found interest in elephant transport. Oh – and did they inspect Spike’s transport plan and crate with the same concern when he was trucked from Calgary, Alberta to Florida? Nope! Hope they are present and pay such attention when the three Calgary girls are moved to the Smithsonian Zoo in Washington (one which, by the way, euthanized an elephant – Nancy – due to TB in 2000). Odd how Toronto’s move underwent such immense scrutiny – especially given the detail, equipment used and amazing and skilled move team that oversaw the safe and seamless transfer of the Toronto girls to San Andreas, California.

            I have to say I am so pleased that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency wants to oversee elephant moves and look forward to their involvement in the Calgary Zoo move as well as the numerous moves by the Bowmanville Zoo and Tarzan Zerbini Circus (Shriners Circus) next year.

            Finally and emphatically … I do care about elephants and will continue to speak out truthfully for them as well as other beings that share our planet.

          • Why did you fail to mention the $250 days? or the $800+ weekends? I don’t know of any public zoo that charges fees like that. Only the private zoo in California does, to my knowledge. The ONLY reason the Toronto girls made it to Toronto at all is because they were trained and conditioned before the transfer and because their keepers that they were familiar with, one of them for 18 years, were with them on the journey. Thika is still having problems both emotionally and physically because of that move, so no, it wasn’t so “amazing” other than the fact they arrived alive.

          • Yes, they do have other fundraising activities at PAWS, just as many of the hospitals, cultural venues, zoos, not-for-profits also have more expensive events for those who wish to contribute/participate. However, it is important not to mislead those that are reading these posts that have not had an opportunity to research all the facts. And those facts show that there is a $50 option to go to PAWS, TruthBTold.

            I would be interested in where you are accessing the records/validated information from qualified professionals regarding Thika’s emotional and physical problems … or is that from photos on google as well? Please direct me and others to where this verifiable information can be located – otherwise I too will have to call bullhook! (thanks J_Galbraith)

          • Toka? seriously you are insulting that beautiful creature by using her name.

            As you well know that if a zoo has an elephant program there are going to be deaths. The Toronto Zoo’s elephant program spanned more than 4 decades. The zoo has not hidden anything about any of the elephant deaths during that time.

            Now, PAWS on the other hand, has only been around for 3 decades and has had many deaths of it’s own with 3 of them occurring in the space of 1 year of each other. Interesting to note that of those 3, 2 showed positive TB upon necropsy and the 3rd never had a necropsy but TB is suspected. And that 3rd death that has no necropsy report was an African elephant who spent considerable time living in the same barn as the Asian girls including the one that died with a positive TB culture.

            Also interesting to note is that 1 of those that was TB positive died in January of the year the council voted to send the girls there and the other 1 that was TB positive died in January just after that decision – 1 year apart from each other. The whole time both the council & PAWS claimed there was no TB. After the FOIA documents became public Michelle Berardinetti publicly admitted that she knew about the TB before the council decision. Her answer when asked why she chose to deny it was that she “didn’t think it was important”.

            If PAWS had nothing to hide why did they? No need to answer that as I suspect it will just be more pro PAWS hype and misinformation that I wouldn’t believe anyway.

    • That elephant is NOT at a North American sanctuary, Bob. PAWS and TES are world-class elephant sanctuaries.

  29. Really?? ” The orphaned polar bear will live in captivity on display all its life, never roaming across great expanses of snow. Would natural death in the wild have been better?”

    Says a lot when someone thinks death is the answer. The cub would have died.

  30. If you didn’t learn anything at a zoo, you were doing it wrong. I’m sure that some private zoos don’t educate or do any research or conservation work. However, good, AZA (and some, but unfortunately not all CAZA) accredited zoos and related facilities work very hard on conservation, research, and education. I credit Toronto Zoo for my love of animals, and the fact I have a biology degree and a vet tech diploma. I now work in biology research, helping to conserve many of our native reptiles and amphibians.

  31. Let Lucy go to a sanctuary she needs to company of her own kind. Plus she will in a warmer climate. No more elephant in Zoos, actually it is time to stop having zoos and circuses. Time have change people are more aware what these poor animal have to go trough.

  32. This in an opinion piece

    • Yes, and Ms. Amiel is entitled to her opinion no matter how much we disagree with it. It’s a shame that for some it’s seen as carved-in-stone truthful reporting when it’s obviously not as she hasn’t done any research other than what she may have received from zoocheck et al.

      • I’m assuming you call something factual only if it agrees with your particular view of the world LOL

        • No, I call something factual when it can be supported with documentation and expert opinion. I’ll leave the assuming facts when it agrees with your particular view of the world to you.

  33. “I’m no genius”… no kidding. “I don’t know the answer”… if you don’t have anything constructive to say, then do some research until you do, don’t sit on one side of an issue and trash talk, that’s just ignorant rambling.

  34. Not all zoos are the same and the opinion you have of one should not be given to all zoos in general. Many zoos provide a safe home for animals that have no habitat left in the wild. They are not better of dead or dying than being in a zoo. I am a zookeeper and the animals I care for receive better care than most peoples pets! They are warm, comfortable, have a stimulating environment, amazing diets, healthcare and more. Most zookeepers care deeply about their animals as if they were their family or children. The idea many of you have is of zoos of the past. Zoos have advances tremendously over the years. Granted there are still some that are better than others. Also just because a place is called a “Sanctuary” doesn’t mean the animals are better off. Not all sanctuaries are the same and many animals are better off in the zoo they live in rather than being shipped to a sanctuary! Research your information before forming such a strong opinion. You will be shocked to find out that zoos main focus is education, conservation and proper care of their animals. Breeding successes are happening everyday in modern zoos and have saves countless numbers of species that would be extinct if it weren’t for captive breeding programs.

    • ZooSupporter, you do have some good points – some zoos are better than others and the Oakland Zoo particularly should be applauded for their 6 acres for elephants, first in the US to adopt protected contact, and excellent care for their elephants. However, I and most of my colleagues in elephant advocacy have done years of research on elephants in zoos; Lucy for 3 solid years and I’ve actually taken the time to read the expert reports by Dr. Winnie Kiiru, Asian elephant scientist Surendra Varma, and Edmonton veterinarian Dr. Debi Zimmermann, who all find extreme fault with the conditions Lucy is existing in at the Valley Zoo, and state that she needs to be moved to a warm-climate sanctuary. (So do experts like Dr. Joyce Poole.) So our “strong opinion” is based on expert opinions, science and facts. And this article is about Lucy, not all species in all zoos. Large land mammals like elephants do not thrive in zoos, especially small, antiquated zoos in frigid winter climates like Edmonton’s. If Lucy isn’t moved to a sanctuary in a warmer climate and gain elephant companionship, I doubt she’ll see 40. That’s about the average for zoo elephants to survive, but at a sanctuary she could live into her 60′s. I also suggest you please Google and read the Seattle Times’ 3-part, award-winning investigative series published last December entitled “Glamour Beasts” to see just how elephants are not living in zoos, they’re dying there.

      • She will more likely not see 40 just from the stress of transport, which likely will kill her. So I agree with keeping her in the home she has known, given the highest standard of care possible in Edmonton. Death of an animal in a stressful situation, such as during a ride, seems much more awful than a peaceful, painless death in a familiar setting with many comforts and a supportive team.

        • I am amazed at your willingness Become informed! to disregard the advice and input of many elephant specialists and experts that state keeping a lone female elephant is nothing but sheer torture for the animal. Female elephants are herd animals and need their own kind. In the wild they never, ever leave their family unit – they live with their mom, aunties, cousins, grannies, siblings their entire lives. To paraphrase an argument made by David Hancock on the Fifth Estate episode “An Elephant in the Room” “It is hard to describe how social elephants are … when people say she is a people elephant, they know nothing about elephants”.

  35. I implore each and every one of you that support this article to do your own research. Come to Edmonton and go to the zoo. Sit in on the Asian elephant talk, ask questions, and then you can form your opinion. Heck even volunteer, if only for a little bit to gain true insight. Lucy remains there for many reasons, yet people ignore the obvious “she will die if she travels” and continue to listen to very biased persons. These people who would have you remove your dogs and cats from your home because it is not right to keep an animal in a home. You need perspective, and while no matter what I say and what evidence I provide, I know I cannot change your perspective. However, I do encourage you to work for and develop your own opinion rather than reiterating the opinion of very biased people.

    There are other things I would like to address in the article. Pressuring Asian countries and somehow getting Africa to stop poaching is very romantic, but it is not realistic. To do this you need money, and these places simply do not have it. How can they provide welfare for the animals when they cannot provide welfare for their people. I definitely support conservation efforts around the world, but the the simple truth is without zoos and other agencies taking care of these animals they would die out due to people. Maybe, perhaps sometime in the future this is possible, but now it is very improbable.

    • Cass, got 10 minutes to really look at Lucy’s life? I ask you to sit and just watch, really watch the full 10 minutes of this video and then try to tell anyone that Lucy is happy or even content at the Valley Zoo. Notice, as elephant experts have, that Lucy is so depressed she doesn’t even flap her ears like a normal elephant does. Notice her stereotypical rocking, a recognized sign of psychological distress. Ten minutes of your life for Lucy? (And most of us have dogs or cats – wherever you’re hearing nonsense about anyone wanting to remove them from our homes is ridiculous.)

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb-GKD6Z5qc

      • Actually, PETA is against having animals as pets, including cats and dogs. Yes, it is ridiculous nonsense as many uninformed animal rights groups are.

        • Why do you assume that all elephant advocates or animal rights supporters are PETA members? PETA is not the only AR organization, and many of us are completely independent activists.

    • “she will die if she travels” is not based on any measurable and repeatable criteria and is simply the statement of a man that will cease to get “face time” in the press if Lucy is moved. They have refused to engage any expert opinion other than that of a Dr Oosterhuis who has a very questionable record in the humane treatment of elephants,

      • I fully agree with you Cass. J_Galbraith, you have no idea. Your above statement is a complete lie. Please don’t say things that are untrue when you do not know the real facts. Also, it is truly upsetting how judgmental you anti-zoo advocates are of the vets that devote their lives to caring for animals. Focus your energy into becoming informed and raising awareness about the actual issues in conservation.

        • Become informed! What part of J_Galbraith’s statement is not informed? In fact, it is very informed from all the research and fact finding I have completed. Dr. Ness has openly stated that he has never worked with or treated an elephant other than Lucy. And Dr. Oosterhuis does have a questionable record? – the condoned beating of Dunda over two days (dragged to the ground and beaten with ax handles) and the total wrong diagnosis regarding Maggie (too sick to move and let’s build her a treadmill)?

  36. Poor Lucy…look into her eye, the sadness and the lonleyness is plain to see. It looks as if she has given up. I really hope she gets rescued form that zoo and taken to PAWS asap.

  37. It never ceases to amaze me how many people argue that zoos don’t serve a purpose. Really? So those California condors that are now flying our skies once again…they aren’t important? Or how about the Arabian oryx that was extinct in the wild as of the 1970s, but reintroduced thanks to numerous zoos that had breeding herds. Thanks to the reintroduction it is the first animal to have gone from extinct in the wild to vulnerable on the IUCN red list. Black-footed ferrets? Golden Lion Tamarins? Oregon Spotted Frog? Wyoming Toad? All of these animals are part of a reintroduction program, and they most definitely serve a purpose. How much evidence do you need that breeding in captivity helps?

    If you ask any animal caretaker they would probably agree that they would much rather see their animals in the wild. But the reality is that the wild just isn’t SAFE! They are being slaughtered in record numbers for their body parts, or because they are a trophy to some hunter. Until that stops, those of us who work at zoos are doing our best to educate the public, and inspire the next generation into caring for the planet and those we share it with. I’ve seen so many times in my career the light in someone’s eyes when they get to actually SEE the animal they might have heard of, or read about, or seen on TV. “In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.” – Baba Dioum

    Also, if you don’t think the animals at zoos care for their keepers, you should come see the male lion I care for when he sees some of the keepers that first took care of him when he came to the states when he was 6 months old. He can recognize them in a crowd, out of uniform, and he runs up to the fencing. He rubs along the fencing and makes the lion sounds of greeting. He’s almost 10 now, and hasn’t had them as keepers for almost 5 years.

    • JA, name one zoo in North America that has ever ONCE returned an elephant to the wild. You can’t.

      • No, you are absolutely right. Any zoo would be absolutely FOOLISH to release an elephant to the wild. Re-release programs require many different levels of planning, but one of the main ones is that the area they are being released to has to be SAFE. Elephants are being slaughtered by the tens of thousands every year for their ivory and meat. Until that stops, you won’t see a re-release program for elephants. It would be a complete waste of resources to send an animal you worked so hard to help LIVE to be slaughtered. I never mentioned elephants as part of the re-release programs, so kindly don’t assume I am only talking about them. This article might center around elephants, but the author mentions breeding programs in general. There are MANY breeding programs in zoos that have been very successful, and re-releases into the wild have done very well. So my point was that zoos DO make a difference.

        • Zoos don’t breed elephants for conservation of the species, JA. It is not conservation in the slightest to breed them for lives of captivity, disease and early death behind bars. Zoos breed elephants because it’s almost impossible to steal them from the wild and import them since the passage of the ESA (Endangered Species Act), and elephants’ lives are dramatically shortened in zoos. So the zoos now breed them to keep their “collections” stocked with crowd-pleasing, moneymaking elephants, especially babies. They don’t really care if baby elephants suffer and die horrible deaths from EEHV as long as they have a baby elephant to bring in the crowds for a few years. They’ll just keep forcing elephants into rape racks, artificially inseminating them, and making more baby elephants. Despicable. And not “conservation”.

    • Using an online elephant database I performed some quick calculations using available information. Assuming error, I allotted 110% for the total births and only 100% for deaths thus skewing in favour of zoos.. The results are 3 times as many deaths as births. Possibly I do not understand the finer nuances of conservation but I will label zoo conservation claims as a lie or people in that field do not understand what the word actually means.
      The reality is that zoos have only maintained elephants in zoos by topping up from the wild. If the goal is conservation they are doing it poorly.

  38. Sorry, but I will not even consider the argument of a journalist who has not even correctly identified the species on which she writes. Lucy is an Asian elephant. Nice try.

    • Yes but I will take the word of a cat vet doctor with experience with no other elephant experience than Lucy over science. In a zoo that paired her with an African elephant. Maybe that’s that where the error occurred? They mentioned that with their vast knowledge of elephants they thought an African would be a good partner and she mixed up her notes.
      I remember the pro zoo people of Toronto made a statement and attributed it to PAWS when it was actually from Zoocheck. That was an error. So by your logic everything a pro zoo person from Toronto says can now be ignored.
      The fact is you would not consider anything she has to say unless it is exactly what you believe and now attempt to discredit everything said over one error. Nice try

    • Yes but you will take the word of a cat vet doctor with no other elephant experience than Lucy, over science. In a zoo that paired her with an African elephant. Maybe that’s that where the error occurred? They mentioned that with their vast knowledge of elephants they thought an African would be a good partner and she mixed up her notes.I remember the pro zoo people of Toronto made a statement and attributed it to PAWS when it was actually from Zoocheck. That was an error. So by your logic everything a pro zoo person from Toronto says
      can now be ignored. The fact is you would not consider anything she has to say unless it is exactly what you believe and now attempt to discredit everything said over one error. Nice try. Next you will be looking for typos and correcting grammar

      • “The fact is you would not consider anything she has to say unless it is exactly what you believe”

        Apparently neither would you.

        • I do not discount entire submissions based on some errors. If you were to write a strong argument with facts supporting Lucy in a zoo I may not agree with it but I would at least consider it. But I would not discount everything you said if you were to say something like “Your” instead of “You’re”. I don’t have to agree with someone to respect them.
          Truth be known I was squarely on the side of “Who cares” 2 years ago and through the methodical rantings and misleading statements of people like Meg A I have researched enough to be squarely against the treatment of Lucy by the Edmonton zoo. There are zoos that have it right, but in the words of a friend that had gone there “Edmonton zoo is a sad sorry little zoo.”
          “Some me zoos are better than others and the Oakland Zoo particularly should be applauded for their 6 acres for elephants, first in the US to adopt protected contact, and excellent care for their elephants.” (LS forgive me for plagiarizing your words but I think this bares repeating.)

          • J_Galbraith – I don’t know who you are but watching you in the act of demolishing is a beautiful thing indeed. If you aren’t already one of us, i beg you to join us here. We REALLY need you –> https://www.facebook.com/groups/13841416052/?fref=ts

          • J_Galbraith, you’re welcome to quote my words anytime. You didn’t plagiarize them either; you correctly put quotation marks around them indicating they were a quote, and gave attribution. I do see the words I write copied on other pages and groups on FB, often without attribution and even in those cases it never bothers me – if it helps the elephants that’s all that matters. But thank you.

  39. Crystal-clear here. We need to continue evolving in our role as keepers of the earth. Wild animals do not belong in zoos or circuses or canned-hunting camps… Nor was our planet was graced with creatures such as Lucy for any human purpose. She is beautiful as an elephant and her very “elephantness” should be reason enough to offer her protection from exploitation by humans.

  40. If all of you rallied together to fight poachers, ivory sellers/buyers and hunters of wild game, these animals wouldn’t be in zoos or need human assistance for population in the first place. No matter what side of this debate you sit on, your time is better spent on the bigger picture then whether Lucy has feelings or is cold. We have to protect animals in the wild so that there is no need for captivity.

    For all of you doubting Lucy’s vet consider this, PAWS doesn’t even have a vet on site!

    • Tanya, for two years I and some of my colleagues here have co-adminned elephant advocacy pages and websites to fight the poaching crisis, help stop the ivory trade, advocate for wild elephants, and provide support for the boots-on-the-ground organizations who are doing the work in the field. Please don’t judge everyone when you don’t know what we do. And if you would do some research on the ugly history of zoos in North America and elsewhere, you would find that at best, they’ve been predators, buying (not “rescuing” as they term it) elephant calves who were traumatized when their entire families were culled. Some culls occurred with the consent or participation of governments of African nations; other were explicitly conducted so that zoos could grab baby elephants from their families to ship to zoos in the US, Canada and abroad. Do your homework. Zoos don’t exist to protect elephants from extinction and they never have. They’re an archaic holdover from the middle ages when kings had “menageries” of wild animals kept in cages for their amusement. They’re about turning living, sentient and intelligent elephants into “attractions” and making money off their suffering.

      • Well that’s laughable at best – buying elephant calves after their families are culled is not rescuing them? You would prefer they be left there to fend for themselves when they don’t know how? DSWT can’t take care of them all. Thank goodness they are able to take in the ones they can and thank goodness there are zoos that are able to afford to take in the ones that THEY can. As for making money off of elephants, or any other animal for that matter, ALL zoos AND sanctuaries do this albeit in different ways. They do have to feed those animals since none of them are truly “free” to hunt or forage for themselves. Zoos call it admission fees and sanctuaries call it donations but it’s all the same in the end. Once again you’ve managed to put your own twist on the truth and turn it into something that suits your own opinion. I’d rather keep my own opinion thank you.

      • Are you also aware of the fact that there is an overpopulation of African elephants?? Destroying the natural habitats and endangering many other species? Or about the African elephants that kill rhinos and other animals in their testosterone fueled rages? This is why certain African governments have had to start discussing implementing euthanasia protocols for some of the overpopulated areas, so as to save the endangered species and their habitats. This is unfortunate, yes, but the natural balance is not working in this case. It is very sad that human intervention has to be directed this way, but conservation is about finding a balance and saving species. So yes, if they are transporting the calves to zoos then I applaud them because those calves will be saved from the culls that are likely to happen in an overpopulated area or that many of them would die as orphans if the mom wasn’t around because they would not have the skills to survive in the wild. The ivory trade is not the problem in Africa; poaching occurs, but the main issue is the rhino. We should be more worried about the impending doom of Asian elephants with the ivory trade. African elephants are indeed overpopulated in many parts of Africa. We can’t stop these animal issues, but we can try to slow the progression and raise awareness. Instead of battling with your unfortunate stories and exaggerated non-truths, people should be banding together to support causes that need the support.

        • Become informed, please become informed. Your entire comment is completely inaccurate. FYI, the population of African elephants has dropped to a perilously low level of about 400,000 elephants due to rampant poaching and the illegal ivory trade. African forest elephant populations have dropped by 62% in just the past 4 years due to poaching. And elephants are a keystone species, pollinating dozens of species of trees and plants that other animals depend on for food and shelter. You honestly believe that the ivory trade is NOT the problem in Africa? You’re SO misinformed I can’t waste much time trying to educate you. Visit our FB page, Save All Elephants, or the pages & websites of organizations like Save the Elephants, Amboseli Trust for Elephants, Born Free Foundation, ElephantVoices, Hands Off Our Elephants, and dozens of others to correct your sad ignorance.

    • So Mr Ness is there 24/7 with no vacations living in a closet with the same size /space ratio as Lucy. I find it interesting that you feel the larger global issues about elephants are being largely ignored because of the concern for Lucy, which is not the case.

  41. I find this article to be full of confusing arguments…as some have pointed out, Lucy is an Asian elephant, not an African…polar bears actually do live in Manitoba, so it is a native animal and therefore Ms Amiel should be in favour of the recent orphans who have indeed been rescued from a death of starvation or predation by an adult male bear. If you choose to answer the question better dead than in captivity, that is your choice. My point of view contains compassion for the animals not to have to die that way if I and my zoo colleagues can prevent that as I revere their lives and know that I add to their lives in captivity. As a visitor to zoos, you do see some animals that are not enjoying some of the time you are looking at them. That is not their whole life. They have other animals they may like or not like, keepers they make like or not like. Happy days, sad days just like the rest of us…oh yes, like the rest of us…my view of animal care is to allow the animal to express itself as much as possible, if that means in a family group-then allowing them to breed and manage their population appropriately (by participating in national and international species survival plans) and for some lucky few a return to the wild for their own population continuation. Most animals currently in zoos have been born in zoos, are not technically wild and need to be transitioned in order to go into the wild. This is not an easy nor short process. Sometimes if certain animals cannot have an animal companion, then guess what they have a human companion. We are a substitute and sometimes not the best one but better than none at all. I fear the debate about Lucy and Limba is getting away from what is best for these individuals and into elephants as a whole. Clearly both individuals have caring people in their daily lives. The physical condition of Lucy is not optimal for long distance travel and could cause her great pain and discomfort. Should we who do not know her make that decision or should people who spend daily time with her decide? Toronto Zookeepers are well aware of the consequences of having the decision taken out of their hands. We can only hope the three Toronto elephant ladies remain as healthy as they were when they left our zoo. I pray Lucy does not have to endure such a trip. I am less sure about Limba. I wish she did not give rides as I believe that is not dignified, my personal opinion. I know her person treats her very well. I wish her and Lucy the best, whatever that may be. Sorry for the ramble, but understand that at the Toronto Zoo, we are part of the family of many of the non-human beings that live in their home. I am proud to say that and will continue to speak for my friends the animals…we are not perfect and we do need the support of the public to continue our role as an educational, inspirational venue to encourage conservation around the world. I am happy that people today feel the zoo is less necessary than in the past, but the wild is a nasty and dangerous place that we are destroying more and more…people need to connect to zoo nature still to connect to wild nature…I hope some day not to have to have zoos, we are not there yet. Hope to see you at my keeper talk someday…maybe you’ll make a donation to a conservation cause after I tell you about the plight of the species you see before you…and admire close up a really cool non human being.

    • The Toronto zookeepers were initially outraged on a purely egotistical basis that THEY – their precious selves – were not able to make the decision about where to send the elephants. They dawdled for months considering only AZA facilities, and went ballistic when the Toronto City Council took the decision out of their hands and made it themselves. They were ticked off that they lost their professional AZA memberships when the AZA maliciously revoked the Toronto Zoo’s AZA accreditation. And they publicly complained about both of those issues, making their self-centered, egotistical control-freak intentions perfectly clear. The public saw through all that and it didn’t fly, so they concocted a smear campaign against PAWS, and that didn’t fly either. Every day I hear from people who have visited zoos and say they were saddened by what they saw; if anyone truly wants to donate to a legit conservation cause, aside from donating to PAWS I would suggest The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. They not only rescue, raise and reintroduce orphaned elephants to the wild, they have a de-snaring program, anti-poaching units, mobile veterinary units, and much more.

      • Come on let’s be truthful and honest here. Yes, the keepers were upset that NON-EXPERIENCED AND NON-KNOWLEDGEABLE people made a decision about animals they knew nothing about. Yes, they should be upset that the zoo lost AZA accreditation. That decision seriously puts the zoos conservation efforts at risk.

        As for the public, myself and many others worked tirelessly and through research and the Freedom of Information Act obtained documents that clearly proved zoocheck was calling all the shots with cllrs Berardinetti, Cho, DeBaermaker, Carroll and even Fletcher. Those documents also clearly proved the TB at paws and it was only after they were made public that paws, zoocheck, and city council admitted it and tried to downplay it as do you and your followers.

        Why do you think that paws was so very careful to hide that information? Oh wait – it was because the TES offered to take our elephants and was turned down because of – wait for it – TB! paws and zoocheck knew very well that they would not be considered if the truth came out about Sabu and Rebecca. As for your ridiculous claim that those documents were somehow doctored you’d have to say that to try to discredit them wouldn’t you? Please show us your proof.

        I admit those councilors were pretty clever but there’s a saying that goes fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Myself and many others will be out there in 2014 in our wards making sure that the public knows how devious these people are and are not to be trusted and should be voting for someone else.

        Keep on making comments like “egotistical”, “self-centered”,and “control-freak”. Makes a great description of yourself and the others who believe your nonsense.

        • Why are you referring to yourself as “myself” instead of “I”? Have you also dissociated like Lucy does?

  42. I stopped reading where Amiel said Zoos taught her nothing about animals. Maybe the real problem lies in her mirror. Sadly, it’s a pattern that was repeated: journalism school taught her nothing about research, either. Lucy, as has already been pointed out, is not an African elephant. Before lecturing people on “facts” it would be an excellent idea to get your own in order. And, of course, all the usual suspects come out of the woodwork, bleating their usual canned rhetoric. It’s all so very sad that this sort of energy and passion isn’t channeled into helping animals that NEED rescuing, 99.9% of which are not in captivity. If you really want to make a difference, start figuring out how to stop the ivory or rhino horn trade, or the destruction of rainforests. Educate yourselves. It’s clearly too late for Amiel.

    • You play the standard magician slight of hand. I will give you an example outside this subject. Why bother doing anything about issues regarding our First Nations people, when women are oppressed in Afghanistan.
      Fact: Lucy’s enclosure is below standard. Fact: She is extremely overweight due to horrible mismanagement. Fact: She is controlled by what is recognized as an instrument of terror, the bull hook. Fact: The Edmonton zoo is in contravention of Alberta law for not providing the social requirements of Lucy.
      I guess you are a fan of breaking laws, ignoring science and ruling by fear. If you are, I can see your point of view that Lucy’s life is just perfect.

      • Fact: She has lost an incredible amount of weight since Dr. Ness started working with her at the zoo. Fact: this has resulted in a dramatic improvement in her other medical issues including her arthritis, foot problems, as well as stabilizing her respiratory disease. Oh, not to mention the beautiful indoor exercise facility built for her, and her only. Please don’t list facts when they are untrue. Stop feeding lies to people when you do not know the full story. I believe there are substandard zoos around the world, including North America, but Edmonton Zoo is not one of those. The improvements that have been made in the last several years are profound. Please focus your energy on important efforts such as raising awareness about conservation in the wild and let the experts take excellent care of the animals in captivity. Inform yourselves before passing judgements.

        • The medical issue may be a contrivance to scare people into
          believing her health is at risk in a move. Since they refuse to have outside experts look into it I call bull hook. The zoo used Dr Oosterhuis as an expert opinion and he has questionable credentials at best. I choose not to believe either him or Ness.
          Edmonton handlers use bull hooks. Shall we go into a description on how baby elephants are beaten into submission by these instruments? There have been cases where elephants attack their handlers immediately after the handler dropped the weapon aka bull hook. Please describe this wonderful training facility you are speaking of, the one with painted trees on the wall. Alberta law requires the zoo to have a herd of minimum size to meet her social needs. Please tell me where the other elephants are; perhaps they are at a Good Life Fitness in the city somewhere. And if you start spouting about “Oh she is a people elephant and doesn’t require other
          elephants” that is delusional, contrary to law,science and simple humane treatment. Yes Lucy seems to be a people elephant, but if you were locked in a closet with your cat for your life it wouldn’t be long before you and Muffy would be playing cards in your mind.

  43. What will people say Lucy dies while captive at the zoo? What will they say if she dies in transport? And if she dies at a sanctuary?

    polar opposite opinions on Lucy. If you were able to put yourself in the shoes of both those (Those focus of the groups being Lucy stays and Lucy goes) through the questions I have asked above I feel you may find that the answers will be blame on someone.

    If she passes at the zoo, the proponents of Lucy will cry murder by incarceration. If she passes away in transport – both of these groups may very well shout murder. If she dies at a sanctuary, some will lament that had Lucy not lived the life she did, she could have lived longer happier and freer, while others would say perhaps she could have lived longer if kept under the care of her veterinarians.

    The point is – to both groups the life of Lucy seems to not truly matter at this point, only the idea that Lucy brings up. It gives both groups a platform upon which to wage this unbudging war of animal ethics.

    I am no expert, I do not know the intricacies of elephant care nor elephant shipping. I do not try to be. I just feel compassion for an animal in which she is all but forgotten by both groups. The only thing they are now consumed with is the Lucy the idea. But one thing is for certain, Lucy will, as we all will, die. But it will be in the wake of that death that we can hopefully mourn Lucy the Elephant for what she was – a sweet and kind elephant that got stuck in the middle of an idea.

    • Lucy is not an ideological issue, her life and suffering is an issue of the heart for us advocates, backed up by science. Lucy’s life expectancy is short at the Valley Zoo – she probably won’t even see her forties. That’s typical for zoo elephants. Asian elephants have a natural life expectancy of 60 or more years; Shirley at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee is 65. But I doubt Lucy will make it even another 2 years unless she gets out of Edmonton to a better climate.

      If she died in transport I would weep for her; I weep often for her in her current circumstances because there’s nothing natural, joyful or even pleasant about her existence. I don’t call it a life because it’s not a life or living – Lucy is merely existing. For the brief amusement of people and the financial and egotistical gain of the zoo. How many people here have thought about Lucy at 4 a.m.? All alone…likely wide awake because elephants sleep only 4 hours/day on average. We have to consider the risk/benefit ratio, just like our doctors do when they say we need surgery or to take a prescription drug with side effects. A brief transport, well-planned and carried out like Maggie’s by air or the Toronto Zoo elephants’ by road would be well worth the risk, to give Lucy decades of life, health and happiness with her own kind at a sanctuary.

  44. Wow i really believe intregrity in journalism is truly gone! what happened to getting all the facts before writing? I for one believe the move Toronto city council made to move the elephants was the wrong decision… the stress to move them almost killed them! it was the most inhumane way to move them…! Zoo;s around the world are working hard to improve conditions and do amazing work in conservation preservation education and rehabilitation! WE need zoo;s with out them many species will be gone from earth because of us! I have a question for all the animal welfare terrorists…. why are you not in africa fighting to save the elephants there or the rhinos? why are you not in those countrys fighting to stop the trade in ivory or rhino horns ? why are you fighting zoos who love and care for the animals the best they can and with the little money government gives them? If you don;t like the conditions at the zoo, lobby the city for more money so they can expand and improve! Also regarding the elephants move, who by the way have very strong family bonds and the zoo keepers at the zoo they would consider family…. would you take a child from the only home it has ever known,away from loving parents who although poor meet all thier needs just because they live in an apartment instead of a house???? No you wouldn;t but that is exactly what was done to our Elephants!!!! I am sorry Iringa, Toka and Thika, for the fact that our elected officials only cared about money and politics and not what was truely best for you! We humans are stupid and many are so easily led into a cult mentality as are the people who would do anything to close zoo;s even if all the animals died..! For Christmas this year my family is getting Zoo memberships! Thank You Toronto Zoo for the great work you do!

    • The integrity of journalism is gone when it doesn’t validate your point of view? Facts, here is a fact about conservation of elephants zoos, there have been over three times more deaths than live births requiring a top up of animals wrenched from the wilds to maintain zoo herds. People are upset that everyone doesn’t take the opinion of cat and dog vet when that opinion defies everything that is accepted in expert scientific communities. Then people trot out the word terrorist. “Terrorism is the systematic use of violence (terror) as a means of coercion for political purposes.” Is it ignorance or hyperbole when that word is used in context of people bringing about a social change by using peaceful means. Lets all jump up on the soapbox and howl at the moon about how the elephants almost died moving to PAWS. I call bullhook on that. I guess they were on deaths door when the magical elephant man from Edmonton came to the rescue and saved them with his vast knowledge on treating hairballs. Bravo

  45. OK, I’M NOT A VET, BUT, I HAVE A BRAIN & IT TELLS ME, THAT ELEPHANTS DON’T LIVE IN CLIMATES, WHERE SNOW FALLS EVERY YR, ; BE THEY ASIAN OR AFRICAN !!!
    SO IT MAKES NO SENSE TO ME, FOR CANADA TO HAVE ELEPHANTS !!!
    IT’S ALSO WELL KNOWN, THAT FEMALE ELEPHANTS, LIVE IN HERDS, WITH THEIR SISTERS, MOTHERS, AUNTS, COUSINS, FRIENDS, SO A SOLO ELEPHANT, IS EXTREMELY CRUEL, INCONSIDERATE, INHUMANE, DEPRESSIVE & LACKING IN COMPASSION !!!
    I BELIEVE, THAT A HUMAN CAN LOVE AN ANIMAL, MUCH, MUCH MORE, THAN THAT ANIMAL CAN LOVE THE HUMAN, SO WAKE-UP, SILLY HUMANS, STOP BEING SELFISH & ALLOW THE ELEPHANTS TO LIVE IN A WARMER CLIMATE, WITH THEIR OWN KIND !!!

    BAD EYES=BIG TYPE, SORI !

  46. For
    the first time in years , the city of Clarington has told the
    Bowmanville Zoo that Limba cannot participate in this years Santa Claus
    Parade..we would like to say thank you to all who took the time to call
    and email the city to make this happen.

    Please thank the Clarington mayor and council – Mayor’s email: mayor@clarington.net

  47. On its 2012 list of the worst zoos in North America, In Defense of Animals chose the Edmonton zoo for its elephant facility. The Bowmanville zoo where Limba is housed came in second.

    “1. Edmonton Valley Zoo, Alberta, Canada – As Bad as It Gets

    The
    Edmonton Valley Zoo remains intransigent in its selfish will to condemn
    an elephant named Lucy to a life of solitary confinement. The zoo sent
    another elephant away in 2007, forcing Lucy to endure a life of utter
    loneliness in a tiny exhibit. This is cruel punishment for profoundly
    social female elephants. Despite worldwide outrage over Lucy’s plight,
    the zoo continues to allow Lucy to languish in immense psychological and
    physical pain. Lucy displays abnormal behavior, such as rocking and
    swaying, and suffers from chronic arthritis and foot problems. Lucy also
    reportedly struggles with a respiratory problem, almost certainly
    caused by Alberta’s bitterly cold climate. It’s time for the zoo to put
    Lucy’s needs first and send her to a natural-habitat sanctuary in a
    warmer climate to enjoy the company of other elephants. This is Edmonton
    Valley Zoo’s third appearance on IDA’s list.” http://www.idausa.org/campaigns/wild-free2/elephant-protection/hall-of-shame/2012-ten-worst-zoos-for-elephants/

    • In Defense of Animals – well that says it all, now, doesn’t it? It’s no secret that this organization strives to rid the world of zoos. When they make a list of the worst sanctuaries in North America I might start believing them.

  48. Seems Amiel has a thing for large gasbags that find themselves locked up.

  49. Regarding Toronto Zoo supporters saying their zoo is a fine place, it was rated as the second worst zoo in North America in 2009 by the organisation In Defense of Animals.

    2. Toronto Zoo (Canada)

    Deadliest zoo for elephants -Elephants are dying at an
    unprecedented rate at the Toronto Zoo. In less than four years, four
    elephants have died prematurely – two in 2009. None lived beyond age 40,
    even though elephants have a natural lifespan of 60-70 years. Their
    deaths corroborate the results of a 2008 study published in the journal Science showing
    that elephants in zoos die decades sooner than their counterparts in
    protected wild or semi-wild situations. It’s no surprise when you
    consider a zoo like Toronto, which lacks the space, natural conditions,
    and especially the climate elephants need to thrive. No amount of money
    the zoo spends in renovations (it’s proposing a $40 million overhaul)
    and no amount of care for the elephants can compensate for its
    inadequate conditions and frigid temperatures that force elephants
    indoors into tiny spaces during the long winter. The Toronto Zoo’s
    atrocious record of premature elephants deaths will only come to an end
    when it shuts down its elephant display. The Toronto Zoo’s appears for
    the first time on IDA’s Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants list.

    Read more about the Toronto Zoo: http://www.helpelephants.com/toronto_zoo_fact_sheet.html

    http://www.idausa.org/campaigns/wild-free2/elephant-protection/2009-2/

    Thank you Ms. Amiel.

    • And what, pray tell, does In Defense of Animals say about the worst sanctuaries in North America? Hmmm, no such list, right?

  50. An observation. A great many of the supporters of the treatment of Lucy in Edmonton, support the treatment of Limba in Bowmanville both of which use bull hooks. Interesting how the supporters seem to condone bull hooks which is universally accepted now as an instrument of fear and intimidation. I guess zoo people like punitive measures for behavioral control. I dare the keepers at Bowmanville and Edmonton to go to work without their bull hooks. It would be interesting to see how much the elephants “love” them.

    • So riding crops, whips, spurs, spike collars, choke chains, etc. are ok? They’re all universally accepted and argued that they’re great tools when not used abusively. How does a bull hook differ from them?

      • This comment was deleted.

        • What a rude and ignorant assumption. You don’t know me. You know nothing about me. I don’t see anyone lobbying to get rid of those other “torture, as you so eloquently put it” tools because, according to social media profiles on Lori’s pages among others, there are many members who condone their use. Wouldn’t want to upset the equestrians or the animal behaviour experts by going after them, now would you? No, bullhooks are much easier to go after especially when you have decades old photos and videos to prove the abuse but nothing from the here and now. I am not anti-sanctuary and I am pro elephant. Like zoos there are good ones and bad ones and I don’t paint them all with the same brush. I am proud to support zoos, my local one especially, and I see no need for anyone who does to feel ashamed.

          • It was an assumption you brought me to, so don’t get indignant. If bull hooks are acceptable why are they being banned in cities throughout the globe. Why are they considered a weapon outside the context of controlling an elephant. As for it being only used that way in the past, where do you think Lucy and Limba learned to fear it, in their past. I guess the elephants should just “get over it. Once again I dare the handlers of both elephants to stop using them or any item in their hand for that fact. What are they, afraid?

      • They’re not universally accepted. Just because you think they’re OK and you think bullhooks are OK doesn’t mean squat. They’re all instruments of fear, pain and abuse.

        • really? Then where are your protests about them? I would certainly be interested in seeing that.

    • I second your dare, and I’ll throw in another dare: for the keepers in Edmonton and Bowmanville to hand their bullhooks over to Lucy and Limba and see what happens.

  51. Since the Director of the Bowmanville Zoo is so quick to vilify the
    sanctuaries , we thought it only fair to have a look at his track record
    with elephants..

    Lisa-32 yrs old, there 2yrs,cause of death – foot problems,died 1999
    Tony-27yrs old, there 4yrs,c.o.d -unknown,died 1999
    Angus-27yrs old,there 4yrs,c.o.d -unknown,died 1999
    Vance-37yrs old,there 20yrs,c.o.d -leg problem,died 2008
    Ceaser-19yrs old , there 5yrs, c.o.d -unknown,died 2008
    Sheba-36yrs old,there 27yrs,c.o.d -euthanized?, died 2011
    That leaves Limba…

    Source: FB No Elephants in Canada

    • Just working with your figures and a bit more
      42 % of the elephants in Bowmanville’s care have died at 52% or less of their natural life expectancy. Bowmanville staff have no clue what caused half of that 42 % to die. The seem to have no clue what was wrong with Sheba when they euthanized her. And seem to be clueless to the fact that foot problems caused by captivity kills elephants. In fact Sheba was dead for quite some time before Mr. Peters of CAZA had a clue. He was kindly informed by outside observers. To cover this in one word I would choose”clueless”. ThruthBTold

    • Too shy to use your own name or are you Toka in disguise? I find it insulting to both Limba & Toka.

      • Funny, Lisa, that you’re apparently too shy to use your own name, and use a disguise, too.

        • Lisa? LOL you’re deluded. Marie IS my name! I choose not to use my last name as is my right.

      • How is the name someone posts under relevant?

        Do you refute those figures that have been presented as facts?
        You seem to be a google expert.

        Please explain the questionable mortality rates.
        Please explain why there are so many unknowns.
        Please explain where I can get the necropsy reports

        Please explain Sheba’s odd disappearance
        Please explain why CAZA did not know that Sheba was dead and had to be informed by outside parties.
        I will bring your attention to the nature of what I have presented. Although it it is not about Lucy it generally brings to light some serious questions about, how not all zoos are forthcoming about what goes on behind closed gates.

        It is not about whips, penguins or thread count of sheets in cheap hotels.

        Once again, moving on.

  52. First, I agree that circuses with wild animals should be outlawed; they are purely for entertainment. However, I believe you have a lot of misinformation about zoos in general. Yes, there are many roadside zoos which have animals for the purpose of entertainment and their own selfish enjoyment. I assure you the Toronto Zoo is not a roadside zoo or “slum”. I grew up visiting the Riverdale Zoo and it did leave a lot to be desired in terms of captive animal environments. Yet, I still came away with a sense of awe and respect for wild animals. I do agree that there needs to be more done to prevent extinction in the wild by preserving habitat, preventing poaching and educating consumers about products that destroy habitat or require unsustainable hunting. This is one of the roles of zoos in the 21st century. As a member of the Toronto Zoo, I appreciate the ways that the zoo has accepted these challenges. Meet the Keeper talks speak to these issues, specifically, empowering citizens to make changes in their own lives and to take global action. Volunteer guides do a number of activities to deliver the conservation message, including TouchTables, tours and Outreach programs. The zoo also contributes to habitat/species protection through donations. Captive breeding is also required; it is a way to preserve species. Changing government legislation, cultural beliefs, and consumer habits takes time; it is a slow process. Species could become critically endangered or extinct if this is all we do. Toronto Zoo has been and is involved in many captive breeding programs with a national and international commitment. They have bred and released black-footed ferrets, Vancouver Island marmots, and Puerto Rican Crested toads, to name but a few. You say that there is little evidence that captive breeding helps. Many species live longer in zoos, produce offspring either more often or later in life with a high chance of survival. The gene pool is not as limited as it can be in the wild where habitats have become reduced to small areas. Zoos have an international genetic pool as accredited zoos cooperate under Species Survival Programs. Is it realistic to think that all matings are successful in the wild and offspring have much better survival rates? I thing you should check your research.
    You are wrong, Canadians can be proud of their zoos.
    By the way, did you release the wood beetle into the wild or leave it die in your “slum”?

  53. How many elephants are in horrible conditions in Canada ? Here’s another one that has a petition to try to rescue the herd and it suggests strongly that Canada needs tough legislation NOW to protect captive wildlife.

    Save these 11 beautiful Elephants from the abuse they go through at African Lion Safari
    http://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/save-these-11-beautiful-elephants-from-the-abuse-they-go-through-at-african-lion-safari?share_id=ubtinOcGjh&utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition

    • Where are the facts of your claim of abuse? The African Lion Safari has one of the most successful elephant programs in the world. Their work with their hugely successful breeding program is studied around the world. These elephants do not need to be saved, they’re doing just fine without interference from the uninformed.

  54. how uninformed

  55. Ridiculous and inflammatory reporting. Better visit the edmonton zoo before making statements so controversial. Lucy is Asian, not African. No tile floor, heated concrete inside main portion of indoor enclosure, half of which has sand. Indoors 76 % of the time? Outrageous, she does sleep inside her enclosure, yes, but outside of that, she spends most of her time outside and a good portion of that out and about all over this very spacious zoo. She goes up and down hills, pulls up daisies in the spring and occasionally tries to take a tree down. Her last elephant companion left several years ago and she had little or nothing to do with her. I have worked and observed captive Asian elephants in Thailand, Borneo and Sri Lanka and I have spent many years observing lucy. She is as well adjusted as any captive elephant can be, whether in a sanctuary or a zoo and she is significantly bonded to her keepers. I know as I worked at the zoo for many years. I no longer work for the zoo and there is no incenentive for me to lie about this. Spend all the money used to protest and sue the city of Edmonton on conservation of wild Asian elephants to keep them in the wild in the first place.

    • Oh really ? Here is the 2012 list of worst zoos in north america. Based on FACT. And guess what ? Edmonton’s zoo has top place as the worst of the worst. Moreover, on the subject of zoos in general, IDA states ” Nearly 300 elephants are confined in 78 U.S. zoos accredited by the
      Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The Seattle Times’ research
      shows that captivity is actually killing elephants, not helping them.
      According to The Times, most of the elephants who died in U.S. zoos in
      the last 50 years suffered from diseases related to captivity, such as
      chronic foot problems caused by standing on hard surfaces and
      musculoskeletal disorders related to inactivity.” And that is FACT, not inflammatory diatribe.

      “1. Edmonton Valley Zoo, Alberta, Canada – As Bad as It Gets

      The Edmonton Valley Zoo remains intransigent in its selfish will to condemn
      an elephant named Lucy to a life of solitary confinement. The zoo sent
      another elephant away in 2007, forcing Lucy to endure a life of utter
      loneliness in a tiny exhibit. This is cruel punishment for profoundly
      social female elephants. Despite worldwide outrage over Lucy’s plight,
      the zoo continues to allow Lucy to languish in immense psychological and
      physical pain. Lucy displays abnormal behavior, such as rocking and
      swaying, and suffers from chronic arthritis and foot problems. Lucy also
      reportedly struggles with a respiratory problem, almost certainly
      caused by Alberta’s bitterly cold climate. It’s time for the zoo to put
      Lucy’s needs first and send her to a natural-habitat sanctuary in a
      warmer climate to enjoy the company of other elephants. This is Edmonton
      Valley Zoo’s third appearance on IDA’s list.”

      Read this vet report as well. You are woefully ignorant on this subject. http://www.zoocheck.com/reportPDFs/ZimLucyReportJune2009.pdf

    • Pat White, have you read Asian elephant scientist Surendra Varma’s 2009 expert report on Lucy? It negates everything you said. Quoting from that report: “The elephant, Lucy, was provided two kinds of shelters/ enclosure: one was an open enclosure with sand/ mud as flooring. The other was a closed indoor enclosure with concrete flooring. The animal reportedly spends 25% of her time in the open shelter and 75% in the closed shelter, regardless of the times when the barn door is open.

      Lucy did not have access to perennial water sources such as rivers or streams. The water source was a tap/ tank in close proximity. The bathing place was the barn (closed shelter) wherein water was sprayed through hoses onto the elephant for duration of 15-20 min.

      Lucy was allowed to walk, accompanied by keepers, out of her primary enclosure and the nature of terrain is concrete with some grassy areas. The official website of the zoo mentions walks in the adjacent area with natural vegetation and substrates. Keeper records for 2008 reveal that Lucy was not taken out of her enclosure on 63 days due to weather and her ill health.

      Lucy is been kept singly, with no opportunity for social interaction with other elephants. Social interaction is a significant factor in maintaining the health and psychological wellbeing of elephants, especially for females.

      There was no opportunity to range free in natural conditions. Lucy was provided only stall feed; there was no free-ranging foraging opportunity. She appears to browse when she walks out to the woodlot at one end of the zoo, but exposure to this region is ancillary to the focus on her walking; she may not have freedom to browse for more than a short period of time and it is noticed that the keepers constantly pressure her to complete her routine of walking.

      When Lucy stands, no ear flapping is observed and tail/trunk movement is absent. She often appears to be trying to support herself by leaning against a wall or object; which may be due to her leg problems, arthritis and/or obesity. Lucy walks slowly, unlike the majestic walk seen in elephants in the wild. Lucy’s off-exhibit walk appeared to be controlled by keepers, on an average two keepers were seen with her while she walked. It was obvious that the keepers make efforts to motivate or “force” her to walk, meaning it is not necessarily performed voluntarily. During the entire walk, Lucy is controlled by her keepers with the bullhook, leaving her virtually no ability to make choices during her walk.

      Lucy uses only 15 to 20% of the total area of the outdoor enclosure. Although the outside (open) enclosure has mud floor, sand in a corner, small wallowing place and an exclusive enrichment site, it was noted that these facilities were hardly used by Lucy and effective area used within the open enclosure would not be more than 20%.

      Lucy showed stereotypy of two types: rocking and stepping. Lucy is managed for most of the hours when the zoo is open, it is reasonable to presume that her stereotypic behaviour increases when she is left alone.

      The Valley Zoo should now critically review their keeping of Lucy in an environment of continued imposition of a solitary life for a social animal, exposure to cold conditions, an alien living environment for elephants and conditions that are, in all likelihood, the cause of her chronic health problems, including arthritis and obesity. As Lucy becomes older, her chronic health conditions could become a more severe medical and management problem for her. All of her current problems, both ecological and medical, can be solved if she were moved to a location which provides her with the necessary space, stimulus to use the space, the potential to create an unfragmented exercise
      regime, scope for socialization with other elephants (positively/negatively), and suitable weather conditions.”

      Here’s the entire Varma report: https://attachment.fbsbx.com/file_download.php?id=470902582988274&eid=ASvJOM8TleGB7xldQbm2hVNe00fyrh9iMIKqT1R40ipEbyztCOzyFhzZrmypWujZN8g&inline=1&ext=1383523867&hash=ASvFFWZ-T81r2iX6

  56. Hoping that the move of the Toronto elephants will inspire more thoughtful journalism in similar vein. Lucy has come to symbolize all that is wrong with zoos and aquariums. Canadians should be appalled at just how far we lag behind other countries in examining the ethics of keeping animals in captivity. India recently banned elephants from zoos and circuses, and dolphins from sea worlds. Costa Rica has closed its zoos entirely. China has banned animal circuses and issued warnings to zoos. Quite a different story here, where both public and privately owned facilities are quite free to do as they please. In the case of Lucy, the Edmonton Valley zoo director is also the president of the Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums , a self-governing self-serving body. Any regulations that do apply to elephant welfare such as size of herd are easy enough to avoid. The zoo continues to refuse independent evaluation of her health and ability to move, by respected veterinarians and elephant welfare experts. Shameful indeed.

  57. How does someone publish an article and not get the species of elephant correct…

  58. This video says it all. This is Maggie who was at the zoo in Alaska and came to PAWS in 2007. She was very sick when she arrived but she has blossomed at the sanctuary. PAWS gave her life back to her. This is what Barbara Amiel is talking about. This is what all of us who believe in the dignity and rights of animals are fighting for. Please watch. If you have a heart it will bring you to tears – of joy. http://animoto.com/play/wxHjgF1MWdIwJDKZ1faMTQ

  59. Any comments regarding zoos out
    side of North America? Sao Paulo and its elephant exhibit

  60. Welfare status of Lucy the Elephant: An Investigation into the Welfare Status of the Elephant Lucy in Valley Zoo, Edmonton, Canada by Surendra Varma

    “The Valley Zoo should now critically review their keeping of Lucy in an environment of
    continued imposition of a solitary life for a social animal, exposure to cold conditions, an alien living environment for elephants and conditions that are, in all likelihood, the cause of her chronic health problems, including arthritis and obesity. As Lucy becomes older, her chronic health conditions could become a more severe medical and management problem for her.”
    http://www.asiannature.org/sites/default/files/OR%2010%20Lucy%20Welfare%20status.pdf

  61. We have such a depressing slum in Bowmanville, 60k east of Toronto where Limba, at 53 years old, is Canada’s oldest elephant. Like Lucy at Edmonton Zoo, she lives in solitary confinement. It is heartbreaking to see such deep-rooted sadness in her eyes. We are doing all we can here…https://www.facebook.com/freelimbatheelephant?ref=br_tf and also here… https://www.facebook.com/pages/No-Elephants-in-Canada/436677946453753 Thank you for your compassion.

  62. Excellent article. Limba at the Bowmanville zoo in Ontario and Lucy at Edmonton zoo need to go to warm climate SANCTUARIES. The Granby zoo in Quebec just got a new elephant in June from Germany. Tutume, a 14 year old bull, is going to be used for breeding. Both Sarah, who lives at Granby, and Carole, from Hemmingford Parc Safari, are 30 years old and past breeding age. They are the only two female African elephants in Canada. Sounds like there are plans to bring more female African elephants into cold Canada. Terrible news!

  63. You are right Rebecca, she is an Asian….. Perhaps this is sometimes why stories are often not given the press/exposure they need as some/part of the facts are incorrect. :(

  64. If you are an Elephant “expert”..with the responsibility of caring for Elephants, especially as a “profession” with all the schooling necessary for such career….then SURELY you are well aware of what their needs are…, physically, mentally, emotionally & medically… KNOWING they NEED the socialization of other Elephants but to continue to diffuse the truth with smoke & mirrors, keeping Lucy all alone KNOWING this is NOT good for her well being, especially mentally…..There is no human on this PLANET that can give LUCY or any other Elephant, the tenderness & connections they NEED, other than from other Elephants. PERIOD!!! It is a shameful disgrace to KNOWINGLY continue lying to the uninformed & uneducated public day in & day out all at the expense of an Elephant that deserves and has EVERY RIGHT to live as a free Elephant, with other Elephants…THIS IS A TRUE DISGRACE!!!!! SHAME ON YOU!!!!

  65. the women who wrote this article admitted that she didn’t do any research on Lucy and that her facts are wrong. so before you go backing her up do your own research on Lucy and you would find out that is an Asian elephant not an African elephant and that she also has a 700, 000 square feet building for her to live in.

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