Thursday, May 20


This is a biggie: The Detroit Zoo will become the nation's first major animal facility to give away its elephants solely on ethical grounds. Apparently the director, Ron Kagan, is an old softie who has spoken out against sport hunting, sent a zoo expert to testify against a circus using polar bears in Puerto Rico and pissed off other animal-abuse lovers from time to time. He spells out what this means: "If we don't feel like we can (keep elephants), then the question is, who can and how?," he said. "For us, there really is a big question about whether elephants should be in captivity at all." Yes, there is, as there are about other animals. But even there he leaves the window open: "In the future, there may very well be more species that we'll look back and say, 'We just didn't understand.'" What's noteworthy is that while this is one (large) zoo, even the director of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association admits "We're seeing an evolution in elephant management." Kagan sums up this milestone pretty well:
"I wouldn't expect the American public - which has been told for 100 years it's OK to have elephants in captivity - to say 'Oh, OK, we understand' right away. But we have an educational mission. The zoo is the window into our humanity, and how we treat other things in nature."

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