10 Worst Zoos for Elephants

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.”

Check out the 2009 list of the Worst Zoos for Elephants. If you live near one of these zoos and want to help, contact zoos@idausa.org for information.

Also visit the Performing Animal Welfare Society, or PAWS, in Northern California and The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee for ways to help. 

creative commons


wilma s.
wilma s.7 years ago

All of these gentle giants should be in the wild, but what can we do? Let's put them all in huge sanctuaries.

Vicky Slay
Vicky SlaySlay7 years ago

It is a shame that Zoos can't care better for these gentle giants. I have found that the San Diego Zoo takes care of their elephants.
www.sandiegozoo.com is how I keep informed on them each week or when I can. They have a 24 hour web cam.

Barbra Callaghan
Barbra Callaghan8 years ago

Elephants should be in a large enviroment to roam and do what they need to do , it pi**es me off to see them caged up or in tight no roomed cages !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Elephants are my favourite animal and they should be free to roam anddo what is natural to them! That goes for any animal as well!
SVE THE ELEPHANTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Christina Minar
Christina M8 years ago

:( thats why I love the zoo near my town. big open spaces

Trish R.
Trish R.9 years ago

We don't need elephants or any other creature locked in a cage in a zoo Always, always cases of abuse at zoo's and game farms ? They need to be shut down !!

Katrina Dewes
Trina Dewes9 years ago

I have never taken my son to a zoo or circus because of the cruelty and inhumane conditions at these places I have witnessed myself. Anyone who takes their children to either one is condoning the treatment of these animals and teaching their children that it is okay for animals to be where they are.

Mario Circello
Mario Circello9 years ago

Ciao... assolutamente boicottare gli zoo e i circhi!
Questa è l'ennesima crudeltà, che l'uomo perpetra ai danni degli animali, della natura, e il tutto solo per soldi, e sfruttando l'ignoranza delle persone!
Cordiali e civili saluti.

Line V.
Line V.9 years ago

Dont go to the bad zoo and dont bring your children and

Stuart O.
Stuart O9 years ago

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They say they will hold me here until each of the following petitions has reached its signiture goal.







For convenience: highlight the petition you wish to sign by holding down the left mouse button and dragging the cursor over it.
Once highlighted, right click on it and click copy on the menu. Then go to the web address bar and right click.
Select paste from the drop down menu and the web address should appear.

PS: more-allotments is uk only, sorry.
PPS: Please help me. They make me listen to Des O'conners greatest hits all day and night. Oh no... they're coming. Arrrrrrrrgh............!

poepiesnoepie k.
Past Member 9 years ago

elephants are beautiful.. they deserve a beautiful habitat too!