Elephants do not belong in zoos. They do not belong confined to spaces inadequate for them to function normally. In fact, most elephant zoo exhibits cannot begin to replicate the normal roaming and foraging patterns of elephants who, in one day, can cover 10 miles over ranges measuring hundreds of square miles. In addition, zoo elephants;
• Reside on hard ground and cement surfaces, contributing substantially to painful foot and leg ailments. Foot disease is a common cause of death in captive elephants.
• Endure conditions that induce psychological and emotional suffering; for instance, living in isolation for extended periods of time.
• Suffer from the inability to partake in natural behaviors, like forming family groups. Infant elephants are often shipped to other zoos or circuses.
• Develop stereotypies, such as swaying or patterned walking, which are considered symptoms of psychological distress.
• Are subjected to inhumane treatment through the use of bullhooks and other negative training devices.
• Live in climates that do not replicate their natural environment, causing them undue stress.
The life of a zoo elephant is fraught with much pain, suffering, and sorrow. Therefore, permanently closing elephant exhibits and retiring the elephants to appropriate sanctuaries would do a great service to the world’s largest land mammal. Such a compassionate act on the part of zoo officials would serve as a true testament of their concern for the well-being of wildlife. Additionally, such an action will go far in fostering a public understanding and respect for the magnificent and gentle elephant.
We urge you to contact zoos in your locale where elephants are being deprived of their natural environment, companionships, and freedom from inhumane treatment and urge those zoos to close their elephant exhibits and retire any elephants in their care to appropriate sanctuaries. By urging zoo directors to permanently close their elephant exhibits, you will be demonstrating your compassion, respect, and concern for these gentle giants.