Recently I appeared on the Fox Business Network's Varney & Co. to defend a lawsuit against a Los Angeles zoo that neglects its elephants and cages them in conditions that harm their health.
An L.A. Times article about the suit notes that Billy, the elephant at issue in court, has been at the zoo for "much of his 27 years." While elephants roam for up to 18 hours a day in the wild, the elephants at the L.A. Zoo have only three acres to walk in. As a result of this and other inadequate conditions in the "exhibit," including hard ground, Billy suffers from overweight, cracked toes, and weary joints. Perhaps most disturbing, the Times reports that "Billy bobs his head for hours," a clear sign of significant distress.
The L.A. Zoo is not alone. An article in Scientific American, titled "How Zoos Kill Elephants," reports on a study published in Science providing "the strongest evidence to date that zoo life is harmful to an elephant's health." The study found that African elephants' life expectancy is 36 years in a Kenyan national park, but just 17 years in zoos. The numbers are similar for Asian elephants.
Baby elephants are in as much danger as the adults. "Infant mortality in Asian elephants is as much as three times higher in zoos than in native protected areas," the Scientific American article notes.
Elephants commonly suffer from obesity and stress in zoos, both of which "are likely factors" in their "early demise in captivity," according to a study described in National Geographic News. (The same article reports that female African elephants' life expectancy is 56 years in the wild, 20 years longer than the study summarized in Scientific American.)
Check out the video to see what Fox personalities asked and said about the topic of closing zoos generally and specifically removing elephants from zoos.
Photo Credit: clio1789