The Scientific American editorial team comes out on the side of elephants and other large, intelligent animals, condemning their captivity and mistreatment in their March 2014 issue. Here’s an excerpt from the article, Free Willy – And All His Pals (title changed to “Free the Elephants and Orcas in Captivity” in the online version):
Orcas and elephants are not the only intelligent species that deserve our respect and attention, but they face unique hardships in captivity. Even though many zoos and sea parks raise awareness about the plight of animals in the wild, the suffering of captive orcas and elephants in particular overshadows this worthy goal. Some currently confined individuals may not survive if released, but the ones that can be, should be, and captive breeding programs should be terminated.
We would add that a sanctuary is another possibility for animals that cannot be released into the wild.