Wednesday, May 4


The issue of elephants in captivity continues to grow in public consciousness, unfortunately due to coverage of martyred elephants. "Wankie" is the latest, having died in transit from Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo to another zoo in Utah following the death of her two elephant companions earlier this year. The feds are investigating and protesters are calling for the zoo's president to resign, as yet another death there sparks yet another investigation.

Some reactions amount to speculation, e.g. Ray Ryan, who cared for all three elephants previously and predicted they would not survive the climate and smaller space: "What they did is they took the elephant's persona away. She gave up. She just dropped dead. It's like, 'Where else are you going to ship me?'" Others are more sweeping, but seem pretty hard to refute. "We know zoos are killing elephants," said RaeLeann Smith of In Defense Of Animals. "The lack of space causes captivity-induced ailments."

Notice all the discussion of lack of space? Now let's see how RaeLeann Smith's claim is rebutted: "But zoo officials say their animals are never mistreated. 'We felt very comfortable with the quality of care with our exhibit,' Lincoln Park Zoo President Kevin Bell said at a news conference." Hmmmm. Any mention of the chief problem, space? It reminds me of the panther in this short film, who keeps going on about the lack of spaaace. How come zoos can't hear that?

On the bright side, though, it does look as though Cole Bros. Circus is taking the elephant "phase-out" seriously, at least on a town-by-town basis. "It's a big decision to make to do something like this," said Bill Tebbetts, marketing director for the circus. "(But) it's a better show."

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