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USDA petition regards space for elephants – Toni at National Zoo euthanized

A US Department of Agriculture (USDA) petition focusing on the physical and mental health consequences of lack of space for captive elephants has recently been filed by In Defense of Animals (IDA). ElephantVoices’ Joyce Poole, as one of the experts, provided a icon declaration (Citizen petition) (115.33 kB) about this vital issue for captive elephants.

An estimated half of all captive elephants suffer from arthritis and foot disease, and these ailments are the leading cause of euthanasia in captive elephants. The focus on space has led to an outcry by the zoo industry that continues to express that elephants are doing fine in tiny enclosures allotted to them, despite a wealth of empirical evidence to the contrary. It is difficult to understand why zoos continue to repeat this mantra, since most zoo elephants are, de facto, suffering from substantial mental and physical health problems as a consequence. You may want to visit our FAQ about some of these issues.

On 25 January, Toni, a 40-year-old Asian elephant at the National Zoo was euthanized. The ElephantVoices team visited Toni in Washington DC 3 weeks before, and witnessed an elephant in very poor condition. (See previous news update, and icon Poole, J. 2006. ElephantVoices statement regarding Toni at the National Zoo, Washington DC. (374.34 kB) Toni was a grim example of what a life in captivity can lead to. Toni had experienced and well-meaning people around her, but her “home