Category: Other elephant news

OK City’s baby elephant, Malee, dies


Malee doing unnatural circus-style tricks. Photo credit:

Malee, the 4 year old elephant at the Oklahoma City Zoo died On October 1, 2015 of Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV). May she rest in peace. Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants warned both Woodland Park Zoo and the Oklahoma City Zoo of the risk of EEHV to the two young elephants living at OCZ by moving Bamboo and Chai there. See page 4 of the OKC Zoo fact sheet.

Bamboo and Chai had been exposed to EEHV when Chai’s daughter, Hansa, died from it. Chai as well as the two elephants living at OCZ, Chandra and Ashe, were all exposed to the strain of herpes virus that killed Malee when at Dickerson Park Zoo. At Dickerson Park Zoo 5 elephants contracted EEHV and only Chandra survived. While Malee did not die from the same strain of EEHV as Hansa, there is a very real risk that Aschara, the surviving calf, may succumb to it.

EEHV is a virus which causes horrifically painful, and often fatal hemorrhaging of the vital organs in young Asian elephants. Once again the zoo industry has selfishly taken a risk with this precious young calf’s life in their obsessive desire to breed elephants into zoo confinement. Breeding elephants at the Oklahoma City Zoo – and at all zoos – must end immediately. RIP Malee.

World Elephant Day, with Hope


Today is World Elephant Day. We commemorate our huge friends. They have shared the planet with us since humans emerged from the Great Rift. While we crept along, slowly evolving, elephants carried on with the wisdom and beauty of their own lives. They built nurturing and enduring families. They enjoyed their friends and acquaintances, competed and outwitted their rivals. Elephants’ strength and architectural acuity transformed scrubland into savannas, mudflats into water holes. Where they traveled, new opportunities followed. Elephants remain to this day the stewards and anchors of every biome they call home.

Elephants inspired poetry and wonder in us. They also inspired our insatiable greed. We alone are the instruments of elephants’ servitude in circuses and zoos, slaughter by trophy hunting and lust for their ivory. We alone are the instruments of their looming extinction.

The cause of their crisis is undeniable; the solution to their crisis obvious. They are one in the same: they are us.

While we dare not deny our culpability, it is more important that we dedicate ourselves to a new course of action, one calculated to champion their right to live and flourish on Earth as long as we share the planet with them.

This was written by Lisa Kane, JD.

Please join us in showing your enthusiastic support to organizations fighting in Asia and Africa for great arcs of space and freedom where elephants can live out the many decades of their lives with dignity. Here are some organizations that do outstanding work in the field to save wild elephants:

Big Life
The Amboseli Trust for Elephants
Wildlife Trust of India

Here are some petitions to sign:

Tell the US Fish and Wildlife Service to adopt strong protections to stop the ivory trade
Upgrade the Endangered Species Act

Help wild elephant and rhinos: sign petition and donate

Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants has worked tirelessly to give Seattle’s elephants Bamboo, Chai and Watoto a much deserved retirement to sanctuary after decades of confinement at Woodland Park Zoo. Sadly, Watoto died before this could happen.

Although our cause is local, we have never lost sight of the growing crisis of elephants worldwide who die young due to the poaching crisis of unequaled savagery and consequence. But let’s not forget that elephants confined in zoos die young as well: Watoto was only 45 years old.

We are asking that you help elephants and rhinos in the wild who are in danger of imminent extinction. Please help the anti-poaching efforts of these extraordinary organizations by donating to their worthy and perilous efforts:

Big Life:
African Wildlife Fund:
Save the Elephants:
Wild Aid: Working in China to stop demand.
Endangered Species Protection Fund:

Sign this petition to help:

From African Wildlife Foundation’s web site:

Rhinos: In the wild, the adult black or white rhino has no predators except for humans. Rhinos are hunted and killed for their horns. One rhino is killed every 20 hours in South Africa alone. The major demand for rhino horn is in Asia, where it is used in ornamental carvings and traditional medicine. Rhino horn is touted as a cure for hangovers, cancer, and impotence. Their horns are not true horns; they are actually made of keratin—the same material that makes up our hair and nails. Truly, rhino horn is as effective at curing cancer as chewing on your fingernails.

Elephants: The large tusks on either side of the elephant’s face—used to forage for food and water—have long been desired by people. Poachers kill elephants for their ivory, which is then sold and made into anything from jewelry to religious objects. About 100 elephants are killed every day. At current poaching rates, elephant populations may not survive 10 years in the wild.

Heartfelt plea to Portland Metro Council in Watoto’s memory

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Scientific American: The Science Is In: Elephants Are Even Smarter Than We Realized

Scientific American has yet another excellent scientific article about the intelligence of elephants and the great injustice we do them by keeping them in zoos. They start with an important question:

We now have solid evidence that elephants are some of the most intelligent, social and empathic animals around—so how can we justify keeping them in captivity?

Every paragraph in the article is full of great points and solid scientific reasoning, so it’s hard to pick just one excerpt.

Refurbishing elephant enclosures so they are roomier and more intellectually stimulating is at once an acknowledgment and dismissal of the research on elephant intelligence and welfare. After all, if the zoos really have the animals’ best interests at heart, they would close their elephant exhibits. In 2005 the Detroit Zoo became the first to give up its elephants solely on ethical grounds. Spending so much time in close quarters—and waiting out the harsh Michigan winters indoors—left their two Asian elephants physically and mentally ill. Wanda and Winky were moved to the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s (PAWS) 930-hectare sanctuary in San Andreas, Calif. A handful of zoos have followed suit, but they are in the minority.

Read the full article in Scientific American

Scientific American: Orcas and elephants are smart, social and way too large for captivity

Scientific American March 2014

Scientific American March 2014

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.

Read the full article in Scientific American

Zoos’ dirty little secret

The Bradenton Herald posted a great opinion article about the shocking killing of a healthy giraffe by a Danish zoo.

People around the world were justifiably outraged when a healthy young giraffe was killed because he didn’t fit into a Danish zoo’s breeding plan. A second giraffe execution was in the works before public condemnation put a stop to it. But the only real surprise is how forthcoming these zoos were about it, since disposing of unwanted animals is typically the industry’s dirty little secret. Zoos everywhere, including right here in North America, routinely find ways to unload animals they no longer want or need.

PAWS Welcomes Toronto Zoo Elephants

Wonderful news, from the PAWS newsletter below! Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants applauds Torontonians, their City Council and the Toronto Zoo’s Board of Directors for their compassion and courage in making the science-based decision to allow their elephants to live out their lives at the PAWS Arc 2000 elephant sanctuary.  Let’s hope this serves as an example for Bamboo, Chai and Watoto.

From Canada To California,
Toka, Thika and Iringa Have Arrived At ARK 2000

Today, October 20, three African elephants from the Toronto Zoo in Ontario, Canada, arrived safely at our ARK 2000 sanctuary in San Andreas, California. Their trip was funded by Award-winning television host, Bob Barker, who ardently advocated for the move, while PAWS assumes the financial responsibility for the lifelong care of the elephants. The elephants, Toka, age 43, Thika, age 33, and Iringa, age 44, will eventually share an 80-acre natural habitat with the sanctuary’s three resident African elephants, Mara, Maggie and Lulu.

“We are very happy that Toka, Thika and Iringa are finally here,” said PAWS’ president and co-founder, Ed Stewart. “PAWS looks forward to seeing these elephants make the transition from living in a zoo for most, if not all, of their lives, to exploring their expansive new home and meeting our resident African elephants. The elephants will receive excellent care from a dedicated staff, as they settle into their new lives at our sanctuary.”

“This move has been a long time coming, but what matters is that the elephants are here,” said Bob Barker, who was there to welcome the elephants, along with United Activists for Animal Rights president Nancy Burnet. “I am so excited for Toka, Iringa and Thika. The PAWS sanctuary is a place where elephants can just be elephants. It truly is a paradise for these magnificent animals.”

“After their cross-country journey, our first priority is getting them settled in and comfortable in their new home,” said Dr. Jackie Gai, DVM, PAWS’ veterinarian. “I’m looking forward to getting to know Iringa, Toka, and Thika, and we are committed to providing them with the best care possible.”

“PAWS thanks all of the people who made the road trip with Iringa, Thika and Toka,” said Stewart. “You couldn’t find a better or more qualified crew.” California-based Active Environments coordinated the move, under the direction of Margaret Whittaker. Accompanying the elephants on their trip to ARK 2000 were Dr. Joel Parrott, DVM, Executive Director, Oakland Zoo; Pat Lampi, Executive Director, Alaska Zoo; Dr. Angela Goodnight, DVM, Associate Veterinarian, Oakland Zoo; Jeff Kinzley, Elephant Manager, Oakland Zoo; Scott Blais, International Elephant Consultant, Co-founder, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.

The Toronto Zoo board voted in May 2011 to end the zoo’s elephant program and send the elephants to another facility. The decision was based on a recommendation made in a March 2011 report that cited the high cost of building a new elephant facility, among other issues. In October 2011, the Toronto City Council voted 31-4 to move the elephants to PAWS.

The move comes amid a larger debate about the suitability of keeping elephants in captivity, and on the heels of documentaries such as HBO’s “An Apology To Elephants” (for which Lily Tomlin won an Emmy) and The Fifth Estate’s “The Elephant in the Room,” and The Seattle Times’ 2012 report on elephants in zoos, “Glamour Beasts: The Dark Side of Elephant Captivity.”

To date, 25 zoos have closed, or will be closing, their elephant exhibits, for reasons ranging from lack of funding for exhibit expansions to welfare concerns such as inadequate space, unsuitably cold climates, and insufficient social groups. Other zoos are enlarging older exhibits to provide more space for their elephants.

In the coming days and weeks we will be issuing updates, photos, and videos of the elephants to let you know how they’re settling into their new home. Check our website, like us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube Channel and watch your “in” box.

Welcome Toka, Iringa and Thika.

Remembering Pat Derby

Pat Derby was a friend and champion to elephants suffering in zoos and circuses. Click here for a tribute to Pat Derby from PAWS.


Pat Derby with 71

WATCH: The Elephant in the Room

Canada’s The Fifth Estate aired a great program about the fight to get Edmonton’s elephant into a sanctuary. Watch this in depth program here:

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