Sunday, October 22, 2006


The Reid Park Zoo is, I think, well managed, clean, and takes good care of the animals. They keep just two elephants, Connie and Shaba, in a modest (by elephant standards) enclosure of about an acre. Earlier this year the zoo requested tax funding to expand the elephant enclose to 7 acres at a cost of $8 million.

A group called the Animal Defense League created a big controversy by proposing that the two elephants be moved to an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee instead. They pointed out that the entire zoo is currently only 15 acres and that elephants in the wild require much larger areas than 7 acres to roam in. In the end the zoo got their money and the elephants will stay.

The public was largely on the side of keeping the elephants here, as in how can we have a zoo without elephants. The Animal Defense League proposal was seen, rightly I think, as an attack on the whole idea of having zoos at all. Personally I think for some of the larger animals like elephants and the big carnivores this is a point of view that at least requires more serious consideration though Connie and Shaba look to be well treated and may well be pretty content. No one is implying that they are abused as in this article.

On the other hand I walk by the tiger enclosure, which is maybe half the size of the elephant enclosure, well furnished with trees and grassy areas, places to swim and rest and withdraw from view. And yet every time I see those tigers they are pacing, up and down, up and down. It is a sad thing to see.


Blogger Bill said...

Beware of the trunk :)

3:20 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

I have ambivalent feelings about zoos. On one hand I love seeing the animals, but, on the other hand, I lament the environment for them even tho some are quite spacious. I dislike knowing that we are displacing the animals from their natural habitat. Did you read the NYTimes magazine article last Sunday about elephant behavior and how it has changed?! Worth a read.

8:12 PM  
Blogger Meg Nakagawa said...

At the Auckland Zoo, the elephants are, well, tamed so they get to walk around the zoo (accompanied by a keeper) several times a day, and they have a few areas they can play at, and they just move around the place all day - I think it's one of the attraction of that zoo, that you see elephants walking on the same paths as us, but I don't know if that's messing with their minds or phyche... In August, I got to stand about 2m from one and watch her snack, and it was a wonderful feeling, though, again, I'm not sure what she was thinking...

1:54 AM  
Blogger zannnie said...

Dun really like the idea that animals especially elephants being kept in a zoo rather than in the their natural wilderness...but you did a Great shot!



2:40 AM  
Blogger Louz said...

Ideally we ought to saving and restoring natural habitat, just the opposite of what is actually happening. I think some people find false security in the idea that animal populations can still survive in zoos. The truth is you can't make a viable gene pool out of 6 or even 30 zoo animals scattered all of the world, even if they are willing to breed in a zoo environment. Are elephants meant to be just large zoo performers? So I'm ambivalent too. Nonetheless, a great place to take photos and I can't help think the elephants out walking out on the paths in Aukland is very cool.

Bill - Yeah I dunno whether that is a fond embrace or a search for treats or what that elephant has in mind trunk-wise.

1:42 PM  

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