Friday, September 21, 2012

In the News: Zoo Elephants

In the News:  Topeka Zoo Elephants Sunda (Asian Elephant)  and Tembo (African Elephant) need support to find a home in a Sanctuary

Elephants in captivity have a hard life.  Not only are they forced to live in mostly solitude but also in small spaces and unnatural surroundings.  In nature, all female elephants – most captive elephants are female due to their gentler nature – live in a matriarchal herd.  There they give birth to their young and the multi-generational family offers community, support as older siblings tend for the younger ones, and protection.  The elephant herds roam over wide areas foraging for food and water.  A 20-mile walk from their sleeping places to the next watering hole and pasture is not unheard of.  While in Amboseli National Park, Kenya last year, I saw a herd of elephants every morning walking in a single file against the bright red horizon at sunrise.  Later that day we saw them peacefully grazing at a watering hole only to return at dusk back to the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. 

Two elephants greeting each other

In captivity, these large and heavy animals mainly stand on their feet often on hard cement surfaces and foot problems are the major cause of elephant mortality.  However, there are solutions by releasing these magnificent animals to sanctuaries, where they find community with other elephants and are able to walk, graze, and swim in a more natural environment.  I have visited such a sanctuary here in California:  PAWS Ark 2000 in San Andreas and have seen what a difference this makes.  Please read my story on PAWS here.

There is another beautiful elephant sanctuary in Tennessee. There elephants can roam rolling hills and be in the community of theirs.  Here is a remarkable example of their memory and joy to be together again:  Shirley (52) and Jenny were elephants in a circus and after 22 years, the two are reunited at a Tennessee sanctuary.  Watch the video of the moving story here. After 22 years of separation, The 2 circus elephants recognized each other immediately and the bond was rekindled immediately.  Now they are inseparable.

If you want to help the Topeka Zoo elephants, please read the story below and if you find it in your heart, please click and sign on the petition to give Sunda and Tembo a better life.

Elephants Sunda and Tembo At Topeka Zoo Need Your Help Now!
Please use the form at the bottom of this page to send your message to Topeka officials

In July, IDA Elephant Campaign Director Catherine Doyle visited the Topeka Zoo and was shocked to discover that Asian elephant Sunda had gaping black holes in nails on two feet and that she was frequently shifting her weight from one foot to another, an indication of pain. IDA immediately filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which inspected the facility on August 28 and issued a citation for violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
Though the Topeka Zoo pledged greater transparency following the deaths of several animals under the previous zoo director – including a hippo who died in overheated water and two animals infested with maggots – it is withholding the USDA’s August 28 inspection report from the public as it appeals the citation, even though this is a matter of public record. The zoo already faces formal charges by the USDA that involve 51 "willful violations" of the Animal Welfare Act over a four-year period. This includes providing "minimally appropriate husbandry" for the elephants and failure to inspect their feet as frequently as necessary.
Asian elephant Sunda and African Tembo spend the majority of their lives standing in a tiny concrete barn. Winters are especially hard on them, as freezing weather forces them indoors for virtually the entire season. Sunda suffers from chronic foot infections caused by lack of movement and standing on hard surfaces. Foot disease is a leading killer of elephants in zoos.
Animal Outreach of Kansas has been fighting for five years to send Tembo and Sunda to a sanctuary, where they would live in a large, natural habitat in a far more moderate climate and could choose companions of their own species. Separating Tembo and Sunda is not an issue because they don’t get along, according to zoo records and as seen in a recent TV news report.

Tell the City of Topeka to release the USDA inspection report on the elephants and to send Tembo and Sunda to a sanctuary.
Pl click here:

Til next time,