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Lucy The Elephant
Alone. . . In A Frigid Environment

Elephants are large, highly intelligent and intensely social animals. Long-term research on free-ranging elephants indicates large, complex spaces, and social contact with a sufficient number of other elephants, is critical to their physical and mental health.

In captivity, African and Asian elephants should be kept in warmer climates. Although they may spend a few hours a day outdoors in temperatures that fall below freezing, elephants who live in frigid environments must spend the majority of their time confined indoors, many without the benefit of companions.

Lucy is a lone, female Asian elephant who was torn from her mother and family when she was two years old and sent to the Edmonton Valley Zoo in Canada. In 1989, when Lucy was 14, an African elephant calf named Samantha — who suffered the same traumatic loss of family in her native habitat —joined Lucy in the freezing arctic temperatures.

Samantha was moved to a zoo in the United States in 2007, and Lucy has lived alone since that time. Although Lucy is loved by her keepers and the visitors to the zoo, she is paying a high price for their affection. As we have seen with Maggie from the Anchorage Zoo in Alaska, Lucy needs the space, natural habitats, social interaction with other elephants and a more temperate climate — all critical to her physical and mental health.

PAWS has tried for several months to promote a dialogue with the Edmonton Zoo to discuss bringing Lucy to ARK 2000 where she can enjoy a warmer climate, expansive habitat and other elephant companions. The zoo continues to ignore pleas from us, and from others, to at least discuss her plight.

There have been reports that Lucy's health precludes moving her, and the zoo is contemplating bringing other elephants in as temporary or permanent companions.
If Lucy's health is an issue, it will not improve if she remains in her present situation, and bringing other elephants in to that frigid climate would be unacceptable.

It is the opinion of scientists who have studied elephants and their behavior in the wild that Lucy should not be kept in that environment. On July 18, 2009, Joyce Poole, Ph.D., who is considered a world expert in the field of elephant behavior and communication, wrote in a letter to the Edmonton City Council, “I have studied elephants and worked for their conservation and welfare since the year that Lucy was born. . . It is my considered opinion that the Edmonton Valley Zoo must, with all urgency, allow Lucy to live out the remainder of her life in a warmer climate and in a setting where she is free to roam outdoors and to interact with members of her own species. Only in this situation does Lucy have the chance to make a recovery. After 32 years of captive misery, Lucy deserves to be given what is in her best interests. I urge the Edmonton Valley Zoo to put her needs first, and send Lucy to California, to PAWS, where she has been offered such a home."

To add your voice to Joyce Poole's eloquent plea, write letters to the Mayor of Edmonton,
to the Edmonton City Council and to the Edmonton media.

Pat Derby, President Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)
www.pawsweb.org

Your letters should be directed to:  

The Honorable Mayor Stephan Mandel - Office of the Mayor of Edmonton
2nd Floor, City Hall
1 Sir Winston Churchill Square
Edmonton, AB  T5J 2R7

Telephone: 780-496-8100
Fax: 780-496-8113

The Honorable Councillors of the City of Edmonton
Office of the Councillors of Edmonton
2nd Floor, City Hall
1 Sir Winston Churchill Square
Edmonton, AB 
T5J 2R7

Karen Leibovici
Linda Sloan
Ron Hayter
Kim Krushell
Ed Gibbons
Tony Caterina
Jane Batty
Ben Henerson
Bryan Anderson
Don Iveson
Amarjeet Sohi
Dave Thiele

Their e-mail addresses:
stephen.mandel@edmonton.ca
karen.leibovici@edmonton.ca
linda.sloan@edmonton.ca
ron.hayter@edmonton.ca
kim.krushell@edmonton.ca
ed.gibbons@edmonton.ca
tony.caterina@edmonton.ca
jane.batty@edmonton.ca
ben.henderson@edmonton.ca
bryan.anderson@edmonton.ca
don.iveson@edmonton.ca
amarjeet.sohi@edmonton.ca
dave.thiele@edmonton.ca

Edmonton Media:
city@thejournal.canwest.com
cbx.edmonton@cbc.ca
cfrnnewsassignment@ctv.ca
citvnewsroom@globaltv.com
mailbag@edsun.com
letter@thejournal.canwest.com
metroedmonton@metronews.ca

------------------------------
Edmonton Examiner
#250, 4990 92 Avenue
Edmonton T6B 3A1
Telephone: (780) 453-9001                
Fax: (780) 451-4574
------------------------------
Global Edmonton TV
www.globaltv.com

5325 Allard Way NW
Edmonton, AB T6H 5B8, Canada
Telephone (780) 436-1250

-------------------------------------
The Edmonton Journal
10006 - 101 Street
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T5J 0S1
---------------------------------
The Edmonton Sun
Suite 250 - 4990-92 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta  T6B 3A1

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 Joyce Poole
Buskhellinga 3,
3236 Sandefjord, Norway
18 July 2009

The Honorable City Council of Edmonton,
I have been following with concern the debate regarding Lucy, the lone female Asian elephant, housed at the Edmonton Valley Zoo. Lucy was captured in Sri Lanka in 1976; her records list her original name as Skanik and her birth year as 1975. By mid 1977, at an age when she should have been in the jungles of Sri Lanka, suckling from her mother, Lucy was living behind bars at the Edmonton Valley Zoo. There, in the icy cold of central Canada, she spent the next 12 years, alone, rather than living with her family, being cared for and nurtured by mother and allomothers and learning through social interactions and experiences.

In 1989, when Lucy was 14, an African elephant calf, Samantha, torn from her own family through a culling operation in Zimbabwe, was brought to the zoo. Other than a couple of occasions when Lucy was sent on (failed) breeding loans, Samantha was Lucy’s only elephant companion. In 2007 Samantha was moved to North Carolina on an extended breeding loan, leaving Lucy on her own once more. Highly social, complex and intelligent, no elephant should have to live alone.

Lucy’s home at the zoo is an outdoor yard of less than half an acre and a tiny indoor enclosure with a concrete floor. Due to the icy temperatures and inclement weather, Lucy is estimated to spend up to three quarters of her time indoors – on the concrete floor. At age 34 Lucy is still a young elephant, yet her health problems are myriad and are directly caused by the cold, sedentary life she has been forced to live.

I have studied elephants and worked for their conservation and welfare since the year that Lucy was born; I am considered a world expert in the field of elephant behavior and communication. It is my considered opinion that the Edmonton Valley Zoo must, with all urgency, allow Lucy to live out the remainder of her life in a warmer climate in a setting where she is free to roam outdoors and to interact with members of her own species. Only in this situation does Lucy have the chance to make a recovery. After 32 years of captive misery, Lucy deserves to be given what is in her best interests. I urge the Edmonton Valley Zoo to put her needs first, and send Lucy to California, to PAWS, where she has been offered such a home.

Joyce H. Poole, PhD

Director, ElephantVoices

 

PAWS
Performing Animal Welfare Society
PO Box 849, Galt, CA 95632

(209) 745-2606 office/shelter
(209) 745-1809 fax
info@pawsweb.org

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