Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Follow Up to Story About the National Zoo in Washington, DC Killing Toni, the Elephant: Group Asks that the Zoo Send Three Elephants to an Sanctuary

Follow Up to Story About the National Zoo in Washington, DC Killing Toni, the Abused, Sick, Asian Elephant Instead of Sanctuary: Group Asks that the Zoo Send Its Three Remaining Asian Elephants to an Animal Sanctuary and Close its Elephant Exhibit

I wrote about the story of Toni last week. See this post here -



I fully agree – the remaining Asian Elephants must be sent to an animal sanctuary and the National Zoo must close its elephant exhibit. The National Zoo has proven that it cannot be trusted with the lives of other animals and that they will default to killing others if they think bad publicity will come to them.

I urge you all to contact the people in charge at the zoo. You can find all of their contact information here:



Ask them to atone for killing Toni. As you’ll read in the post above, it was completely unnecessary. It was a result of bad publicity. In essence, they decided to forego scrutiny and play god.

PETA seeks sanctuary for US National Zoo elephants




Fri Jan 27, 8:54 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An animal rights group on Thursday appealed to the U.S. National Zoo in Washington to send its three remaining Asian elephants to an animal sanctuary and close its elephant exhibit.

The appeal came a day after the zoo put down an arthritic Asian elephant who was said to have been in worsening pain. The elephant named Toni was 40. Elephants can live to be 60 or older.

"Toni was clearly in bad shape and had been suffering for a long time. If she had been sent to a sanctuary years ago, her quality of life and health would have vastly improved," People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, said in a letter to the director of the

Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo.

PETA said elephants in zoos were dying decades short of their expected lifespan from illnesses that were directly related to the large animals' lack of spaces and their inability to walk great distances each day.

The organization urged National Zoo Director John Berry to send the park's three remaining elephants, four-year-old Kandula; his mother, 30-year-old Shanthi, and Ambika, 57, to an accredited sanctuary to spare them from a life of misery.

"At either The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee or the Performing Animal Welfare Society in California, the zoo's elephants would have the opportunity to roam through hundreds of acres (hectares) of natural habitat... and enjoy full, healthy and enriching lives," the letter said.

A spokesman for the National Zoo was not immediately available for comment.

There has been a growing debate in the United States over whether it is appropriate for zoos to keep elephants, which in the wild walk miles a day and have home ranges of up to 200 square miles.

Critics have said that zoo conditions, including small, concrete-floored enclosures, make elephants miserable.

At a news conference on Wednesday, the National Zoo's elephant curator, Tony Barthel, said Ambika, who is healthy and free of arthritis, provided evidence that the zoo enclosure was not the cause of Toni's health woes.

"She has been living in the current conditions at the National Zoo for longer than Toni was alive," he said.

Berry told reporters the zoo was building a larger exhibit and was considering moving at least some elephants to a 100-acre (40.5-hectare) to 200-acre (81-hectare) enclosure at its more rural conservation facility in Virginia.

Some U.S. zoos have closed their elephant exhibits in the past few years in the light of concern over odd behavior and arthritis among the animals.

In September zookeepers in Anchorage, Alaska said they were installing a treadmill for their one elephant.

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