Guest Author - Susan Hopf
Queenie was a circus elephant. The owner of the circus was convicted of multiple animal welfare abuses. Queenie was confiscated and had a secure place with an animal sanctuary but the USDA stepped in and placed Queenie in the San Antonio Zoo in an enclosure with another elephant. This enclosure is not big enough to house one elephant but now contains two. The circus owner was not only excused from paying his fines but was also paid $20,000 in the process. Two years following the initial charges being filed, against this real circus clown, two more elephants were confiscated.
An investigation is currently underway to try to answer the USDA’s role in this grand misappropriation of an animal that suffered for decades as a performing elephant and will now continue to suffer for untold number of years in an environment that will create even more physical hardships for her to endure. Clink on the link below to demand that this investigation go forth – the link makes it easy – your voice is needed – speak out for Queenie and for those like her that may come to the same fate in the future.
June 19th, 2010 is International Day of Action for Elephants in Zoos. Please visit the link below, which will take you to “In Defense of Animals” web page where you will find many activities to assist these noble and gentle animals.
Many people are aware that elephants in the wild are in trouble. Numbers are declining due to poaching, farmers killing herds to stop grazing competition and overall loss of habitat. In the recent past zoos were thought to provide a place to preserve the elephant but as we have come to learn more about these incredibly sensitive and intelligent animals we have also come to know that zoos are not able to meet all the needs of these two ton creatures.
Such solitary confinement, that zoos more often than not have to offer, creates mental and physical stress on elephants – arthritis and depression being the most common ailments. Arthritis causes constant pain and depression and other mental illness can lead to self-damaging repetitive movements such as banging of the head into the bars that can then lead to sores that never heal.
Sanctuaries are cropping up all over the world – some privately owned and some owned by corporations. These sanctuaries are superior to zoos in many ways. They provide open and appropriately sized portions of land to accommodate the complex needs of elephants. Offering social groups, freedom of movement and excellent veterinary care sanctuaries are also free of political and government stipulations since they are not funded with tax-payer money. Some sanctuaries are government sponsored but not so in the United States thus far.
Sanctuaries also offer a much more natural life. With sufficient room elephants often engage in play and are always provide a place to swim. Elephants are not required to perform or interact with humans on any level unless they choose to do so. Sanctuaries also never chain or use bullhooks or other forms of corporal punishment nor do they ever take animals from the wild.
Zoos have served a purpose in the role of human intervention for elephants as well as many other species of animals. Some zoos are run more like sanctuaries than what has defined “zoo” in the past. I believe zoos can do better. Remove the kiddie playgrounds and petting zoo and instead educate the children on animals in the wild. Elephant rides and any other sort of performances of any animals should be banned. Engage in activities that are only for the benefit of each animal and a good start would be to par down the number of animals displayed and provide better habitats for those animals that each zoo can best accommodate.
Remember to visit the links below and do what you can to help end the suffering of another creature – a creature that forms tight social bonds, stays with the dead as a sign of grief, shares nursery responsibilities for the babies and runs away in fear from the buzzing of bees – wow they sound more and more like us than we ever expected.