The short, miserable lives of zoo elephants: A Seattle Times exposé  »

Here’s a shocker: Elephants in U.S. zoos have been and continue to be subjected to awful living conditions, and reckless breeding programs, and suffer early, painful deaths.

[T]he decades-long effort by zoos to preserve and protect elephants is failing, exacerbated by substandard conditions and denial of mounting scientific evidence that most elephants do not thrive in captivity.


The Times did a first-of-its-kind analysis of 390 elephant fatalities at accredited U.S. zoos for the past 50 years. It found that most of the elephants died from injury or disease linked to conditions of their captivity, from chronic foot problems caused by standing on hard surfaces to musculoskeletal disorders from inactivity caused by being penned or chained for days and weeks at a time.


By 2003, the weight of scientific evidence that elephants failed to thrive in zoos, combined with pressure from animal-welfare groups worldwide, prompted U.S. agencies to dramatically slow the importation of wild elephants. An easy supply of elephants masked the premature deaths and decline of captive elephants in U.S. zoos. With their supply line nearly closed, zoos stepped up captive breeding to replenish the dying ranks.


[The Association of Zoos and Aquariums along with representatives from dozens of zoos that housed elephants] agreed to “speak and act with a unified voice” in claiming that elephants were thriving in zoos. Together, they hired a crisis-management firm and agreed to dub critics of elephant captivity as “extremists.” They also committed in writing to aggressively breed elephants, following a “species survival plan.”

That’s all from part one. Part two addresses zoos’ sneaky methods of importing wild elephants, and their efforts to keep their old, abused elephants out of sanctuaries like (Vegansaurus favorite) PAWS.

A consortium of zoos is also building its own sanctuary where zoos can send unwanted males. Officials broke ground in April on a 225-acre sanctuary called the National Elephant Center in Fellsmore, Fla. The first phase includes a 13,000-square-foot barn and enough pasture for nine elephants. The $15 million project will eventually house up to 36 elephants.

Accredited zoos also plan to use the center for breeding, one way to revitalize the nation’s elephant population.

Gift idea this year: Adopt a PAWS elephant. Zoos really are the grossest. If you want to show tiny children the magic of wild animals, take them to a sanctuary and let a nice staff person explain why putting animals on display is horrible in tiny-child-friendly terms. Or, you know, just watch nature videos on a big TV and recognize you can’t have everything.

[Photo from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (foster an elephant today!) by rabbit.Hole via Flickr]


Ben the Bear is FREE! Our pal Ian at the Animal Legal Defense Fund alerted us to this wonderful news. After six years of being confined in a concrete cage as part of a roadside zoo in North Carolina, Ben is now living it up at the Performing Animal Welfare Society sanctuary in San Andreas, Calif. Look at him splash in his new pool!

Read more about Ben at ALDF, and thanks so much to the concerned citizens of North Carolina who sued on Ben’s behalf, and to ALDF and PETA for fighting in court for Ben’s freedom, and PAWS for taking him in. May he live a healthy and happy life amid the California oaks!


How cute is this SF Vegan Bakesale flyer!? The correct answer is HOLY SHIT!!
They’re still desperately in need of bakers and I know you love elephants very much* and are total hot shit in the kitchen, so please email them!
*Relevant because all the money goes to P.A.W.S! Adorable elephants roaming free in a happy sanctuary, I love you!

How cute is this SF Vegan Bakesale flyer!? The correct answer is HOLY SHIT!!

They’re still desperately in need of bakers and I know you love elephants very much* and are total hot shit in the kitchen, so please email them!

*Relevant because all the money goes to P.A.W.S! Adorable elephants roaming free in a happy sanctuary, I love you!


Update on Anne the elephant: good news?!  »

Yesterday I was totally bummed about Anne the elephant being abused but I’m feeling a bit better today! The Daily Mail did an update today and it looks very much like Anne will be retired from the circus! After public outcry regarding the terrible video of Anne being abused, an RSPCA representative and a vet specialist from Whipsnade Zoo visited Anne to assess her condition. They haven’t reported any information on her health or the condition of her severe arthritis yet but Anne’s release looks very promising!

There are a couple of great international elephant sanctuaries that have offered to take Anne but that may be a problem. There are no elephant sanctuaries in Britain and moving Anne could be especially difficult due to her health. She could end up at the Whipsnade Zoo instead of a sanctuary or the situation could be even worse, according to the Whipsnade zoological director: “Fundamentally, Anne can be rehomed and integrated with other animals, but it has to be done very carefully. The biggest and most important thing for her is she needs specialist veterinary care. Her physical state may not be very strong and a quick assessment of her arthritis may show that she is even so bad, she needs to be put down.”

But I think Anne is a tough girl! I’m not giving up hope. I hope she is strong enough to make it to a real elephant sanctuary where she can live out the rest of her days with other elephants and miles to roam. Below is a picture of some happily retired elephants at California’s Performing Animal Welfare Society sanctuary—one of the sanctuaries offering a home to Anne. Can you imagine her there?! That would be the best thing ever!


Shelter dogs make the best running buddies!  »

Another day, another tearjerker from Philly! Well, this one probably won’t make you cry but it’s super-adorbs. The Monster Milers is an organization in Philadelphia that hooks runners up with shelter dogs so they can go jogging together! For the dogs, getting regular exercise and companionship can be the thing that keeps them sane during their shelter days. For the people, Monster Milers say dogs are great running buddies because they are good motivators and they also keep you safe when you go running at night—Philly’s a rough town! But if you were jogging with a cute bully, nobody would mess with you! That’s my word.

Monster Milers encourages adoption in general but more specifically they target the running community. Nice strategy! And I bet if someone goes jogging with a dog a few times, it’s REALLY hard not to end up bringing it home. I mean, look at Chicken Dumpling! RIDICULOUS.

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