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"Will Elephants at the Zoo Soon Be a Thing of the Past?"

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"Will Elephants at the Zoo Soon Be a Thing of the Past?"

Postby Alynn » Wed Apr 29, 2015 10:39 am

https://www.yahoo.com/travel/will-eleph ... 93972.html

Visitors flocked to the leafy enclosure at Seattle’s zoo to watch the two elephants, Chai and Bamboo, as they used their long trunks to play with balls and snack on carrots and apples.

The elephants would sometimes exhibit other behavior. Chai would pace from side to side and bob her head up and down — a sign, animal activists say, of the stress of being confined inside the 1-acre area. It is common behavior, and a growing number of people feel the giant animals — hard-wired to roam free across thousands of square miles in Africa and Asia — don’t have a place in American zoos.

Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo recently made the difficult and controversial decision to close its popular elephant exhibit and move Chai and Bamboo to a larger zoo in Oklahoma so they can join a larger herd. Others, like the Bronx Zoo in New York City, say they are moving in the same direction, but will wait until one or more of their existing herd dies. And zoos like Detroit have already retired their pachyderms to one of two U.S. animal refuges.

Many zoos can’t give elephants the space they need. They are also social animals that prefer to live in a herd, but that is hard to provide as elephant numbers dwindle, both in captivity and in the wild.

As of December 2014, there were 159 African elephants at 39 North American zoos and 139 Asian elephants at 34 zoos in the U.S. and Canada, according to the Maryland-based Association of Zoos & Aquariums. The group In Defense of Animals says 21 zoos in North America have closed their elephant exhibits since 1991.

At the same time, national guidelines adopted in 2011 would require some zoos to close their elephant programs by 2017 if they cannot increase their herds and expand their facilities. Some North American zoos have as few as one elephant, said Rob Vernon, spokesman for the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, which drew up the guidelines. The new rules encourage a herd of at least three elephants.

Woodland Park Zoo, which has had elephants in its care since 1921, started discussing the future of its herd after a third pachyderm died in 2014. A community task force recommended in 2013 that the zoo bring in more elephants and expand its facilities, but zoo President and CEO Deborah Jensen said those goals were not achievable, in part because it’s so difficult to obtain new elephants.

In the end, Seattle decided their best choice was Oklahoma, where 36-year-old Chai and 48-year-old Bamboo may become the old “aunties” of the herd, Jensen said.

Activists who protested Seattle’s decision believe the right place for older elephants to “retire” is at one of the nation’s two sanctuaries, in California or Tennessee. Toni Frohoff, director of In Defense of Animals’ elephant campaign, said the Seattle zoo could have made a worse choice than Oklahoma, but she thinks the best choice would have been a sanctuary. Chai and Bamboo are currently in San Diego, where they were temporarily rerouted ! because of bad weather on their way to Oklahoma.

There’s very little consensus — even among animal experts — about what is the right choice to make for the elephants currently in American zoos. Bringing more Asian or African elephants to this country no longer seems feasible and breeding programs have been minimally successful.

Officials in Seattle, which was forced into court over its decision to move its elephants to Oklahoma, say they did what they thought would be best. Jensen was frustrated with the intense focus on Seattle’s decision.

“The question is: Are we going to share the earth with elephants?” she asked, noting that African elephants are being killed at the rate of 96 a day or 30,000 a year, for their ivory. “Sadly, I am pessimistic.”

John Houck, deputy director of the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington, has two Asian elephants, age 50 and 51. They are too dangerous to do well in a larger group and too old to move. After they die, Tacoma plans to replace them with another endangered species, perhaps rhinoceroses.

Looking out a decade or more, Houck does not see a future for Asian, and possibly African, elephants in this country. Keeping a small group of elephants in North America would require the birth of seven to nine calves each year. That is not happening, especially as more females become too old to reproduce.

During a recent visit to the Seattle zoo with her two small children, visitor Rebecca Young said she was sad to see the empty enclosure where Chai and Bamboo used to live.

“I hope they find joy in San Diego or Oklahoma or wherever they land,” she said.
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Re: "Will Elephants at the Zoo Soon Be a Thing of the Past?"

Postby KingObeat » Thu Apr 30, 2015 11:33 pm

A Zoo wouldn't really feel like a Zoo to me without Elephants. icon-sad It sounds like more captive breeding of Elephants needs to be done. Especially if wild populations are disappearing that fast.
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Re: "Will Elephants at the Zoo Soon Be a Thing of the Past?"

Postby naja-naja » Fri May 15, 2015 8:26 am

how is 7-9 calves a year not a feasible goal? dublin zoo here in ireland has has a rake of baby elephats, i think they had 3 born within 3 months of each other last summer in fact one of the males they bred a few years ago was sent to denver colorado. youd think that with the amount of zoos in the US, 'seven to nine' babies per year would be very doable.
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Re: "Will Elephants at the Zoo Soon Be a Thing of the Past?"

Postby Ash » Fri May 15, 2015 11:05 pm

It's not a "feasible goal" because AZA zoos in the US will not sell to private individuals. They only breed what they themselves can afford to keep and house. As a result, there is actually a lot of culling of these animals, and many of these animals are on birth control (and the effects of the birth control seem to last for a long time, even when they are taken off of it).

It's just like Komodo Dragons. An AZA zoo had a clutch of eggs, and they were all viable when they put a candle to them. But because they have a policy against working with private individuals, they crushed most of them at the beginning despite the eggs being completely healthy. You wonder why these animals are endangered? That's exactly why. The big public "accredited" zoos have monopolies on these animals, and they do NOT care about keeping the species alive. Case and point with the Komodos.

Elephants aren't endangered, so not nearly as bad for them if not bred in captivity, but it's the same concept. The future of these animals lies within the hands of responsible, private facilities and individuals.

All these things you read about tigers going extinct, or this or that going extinct, shouldn't be happening. There are VERY few species that truly may go extinct regardless if they were or weren't in the hands of private people. Cheetahs and pandas being probably some of the species that are TRULY most at risk.

Everything else, it's just a matter of politics.
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Re: "Will Elephants at the Zoo Soon Be a Thing of the Past?"

Postby Nìmwey » Tue May 19, 2015 5:21 am

And still the public is being spoon-fed that exotic pet owners are MAKING species endangered!
My main interest is in parrots, dogs, toothed whales and snakes.
Future animals I want to have when we have land are camels, wolfdogs/wolves, coyotes or jackals, striped hyena or aardwolf. Also poultry, rabbits water buffalo and/or yak for livestock.
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Re: "Will Elephants at the Zoo Soon Be a Thing of the Past?"

Postby Violet » Tue May 26, 2015 9:07 am

Maybe if they gave private individuals grants and tax breaks for participating in a captive breeding program? You'd think if these animals were really in such dire straights, there would be a great deal of lobbying for various ways to safeguard the species.
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Re: "Will Elephants at the Zoo Soon Be a Thing of the Past?"

Postby Ash » Wed May 27, 2015 11:08 pm

Violet wrote:Maybe if they gave private individuals grants and tax breaks for participating in a captive breeding program? You'd think if these animals were really in such dire straights, there would be a great deal of lobbying for various ways to safeguard the species.


AZA zoos like to have a monopoly on the rare/endangered animals--well, at least the organization does. They are very against private ownership. I really don't feel like they have the species' best interest at heart if they destroy viable komodo dragon eggs. Those animals could have been donated to private individuals--and I assure you, I know plenty of very experienced reptile keepers who would die to work with them and have raised monitors of all species. But instead they chose not to at all.

AZA and the media paint private owners as bad and abusive--irresponsible, uneducated, and doing it for the thrill. It's not the case at all except in some sensationalized circumstances, but the majority of exotic animal owners are the opposite and can provide more space and enrichment than an AZA zoo can. As a result, this gets bans put in place for the private sector.

There are very few private individuals who get to work with some of these animals. I only know of TamanduaGirl's friend Chasing-Tail who has been able to own some endangered species. But they make it almost impossible for a private person to get the permits.

It really is not good for the species. What we want are MORE of these animals. Zoos go on and on about how endangered some of their animals are, but yet you find those animals are on birth control. If they are truly so endangered, then why not breed? They say there are so many "factors" that go into breeding--which is true, of course--but they have ties all across the US and the world. Fact of the matter is, they just don't breed them because they don't want them in private hands. It's a very elitist thing--and I guess their ego is more important than the species they are supposedly trying to save.

Lol, for the rant. :roll: Sometimes I just get going and can't stop. The longer you're in the exotic animal community, you see how crazy political it gets. All the different organizations and their agendas.

The one thing I can say about AZA, is that they usually do work closely with the reptile community (apparently not with rare species, as seen in the komodo dragon example). They will buy reptiles from private breeders to put into their exhibits and they fought alongside us in the "constrictor ban" FWS was implementing.
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Re: "Will Elephants at the Zoo Soon Be a Thing of the Past?"

Postby Violet » Thu May 28, 2015 1:40 pm

I agree so much with your rant! Take my favorite feline species: The Iberian Lynx. It's the world's most endangered feline, and it's almost slated to become the first cat species to go extinct for almost 2,000 years. Now you would think that with being in such dire straights, they'd do everything in their power to set up multiple breeding pairs wherever possible in captivity, to get the genetic diversity healthy and strong, and to keep as many kittens born as possible. Instead, they crow about the same old same old. Protect the environment, reduce poaching...(which is very important), but is only two aspects in keeping this feline from extinction. Whether the government or whoever makes these decisions believes it or not, every last one of us living, is a steward of our world, and as such, it should be our right to safeguard species in every way possible. The best way to honestly keep this beautiful species from the hands of poachers? Give them to private citizens. The passion I've seen from the people who own exotics is exactly what endangered species need right now.

But I've yet to see the same passion, that genuine love and adoration private exotic keepers have, within zoos and other governmentally permitted animal keepers.
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Re: "Will Elephants at the Zoo Soon Be a Thing of the Past?"

Postby Ash » Fri May 29, 2015 3:37 pm

Violet wrote:I agree so much with your rant! Take my favorite feline species: The Iberian Lynx. It's the world's most endangered feline, and it's almost slated to become the first cat species to go extinct for almost 2,000 years. Now you would think that with being in such dire straights, they'd do everything in their power to set up multiple breeding pairs wherever possible in captivity, to get the genetic diversity healthy and strong, and to keep as many kittens born as possible. Instead, they crow about the same old same old. Protect the environment, reduce poaching...(which is very important), but is only two aspects in keeping this feline from extinction. Whether the government or whoever makes these decisions believes it or not, every last one of us living, is a steward of our world, and as such, it should be our right to safeguard species in every way possible. The best way to honestly keep this beautiful species from the hands of poachers? Give them to private citizens. The passion I've seen from the people who own exotics is exactly what endangered species need right now.

But I've yet to see the same passion, that genuine love and adoration private exotic keepers have, within zoos and other governmentally permitted animal keepers.


Your feelings are the same as mine!
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