Studies have shown that elephants simply don’t do as well living in zoos as other animals. Their life spans are significantly shorter than that of their wild counterparts, they’re prone to a host of behavioral issues and physical problems and the emotional ties they form with other elephants are often disregarded as they’re shuffled from one facility to another.
Elephant experts like Daphne Sheldrick and Joyce Poole argue that elephants are similar to humans and there is nothing kind or educational about keeping these sensitive animals in captivity for the pleasure of curious onlookers, especially when they’re kept alone.
In Defense of Animals (IDA) has released their 2009 list of the Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants citing common problems including cramped living spaces, poor breeding, premature deaths, using circus training techniques and not having a positive impact on conservation efforts.
Last year India took the lead citing similar problems and banned elephants from zoos.
The nine top offenders in the U.S. in 2009 include the San Antonio Zoo (Texas), the Honolulu Zoo (Hawaii), the Reid Park Zoo (Ariz.), the Houston Zoo (Texas), the Topeka Zoo (Kan.), the Oregon Zoo (Ore.), the Bronx Zoo (N.Y.), the Toledo Zoo (Ohio), and the Brookfield Zoo (Ill.)
The list has expanded from U.S. zoos to include the Toronto Zoo, along with adding the Los Angeles Zoo and the Woodland Park Zoo in Washington to the Elephant Hall of Shame for “repeat offenders who have made little to no progress improving conditions for elephants.”
“The Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants list shines a spotlight on the terrible suffering of elephants in zoos,” said IDA president Elliot Katz, DVM. “It’s time for North American zoos to join India in recognizing that Earth’s largest land mammals don’t belong in urban zoos which lack the space and complex natural conditions elephants need. Zoos must follow the lead of the two U.S. sanctuaries that provide elephants with vast acreage in natural habitats and a far superior quality of life.”