I would like to state, on the heels of my earlier post today, that I stand in open dislike of elephants in zoos. We know from research and experts that elephants do not thrive in cold climates, close confinement, or living alone. A handful of zoos, including one close to me (the one we visited at Easter), voluntarily closed their elephant exhibits and transitioned their elephants into refuges, where the elephants have over 20 acres (often much more) to roam, are members of a herd, live in a year-round warm climate, receive individualized medical attention if needed, and are not on display to the public. The zoo we visited yesterday had three elephants in the yard, and I think they have 4 elephants total, in a pretty small enclosure. Didn’t look like it was more than 1 or 2 acres.
The tigers also had an extremely small enclosure. There were two tigers in separate yards, and I’m not sure if they connected. Each yard was quite small, and at least 1/8th or less of what the elderly tiger at the first zoo has. The 2nd zoo made the Top Ten Worst Zoo list according to In Defense of Animals in 2009 for separating a bull elephant many years before natural separation occurs in the wild, after the elephant attacked his keeper. The zoo and elephant experts are of course at odds over the reasons for the attack. The zoo being a business, I tend to think the elephant experts who are not affiliated with the zoo are probably being more truthful.
Although the 2nd zoo had much better people facilities, and amazing playing and learning areas for young children, for the sake of the elephants and big cats alone I don’t think I will be giving them my business. The other zoo is smaller in terms of people areas, but the animals have huge spaces, and the fact that they don’t keep elephants anymore is a testament to their integrity as animal keepers. The play areas are not as creative, high tech, or interactive… but their money is obviously going toward animal well-being and not entertainment, and that’s ok. So it may be a few years before Jo Jo can really see the animals as they are often far in the distance, roaming around their space, but I want my money to go where my mouth is.