In Defense of Animals: San Antonio Zoo
Elephants Lucky And Queenie In Danger At The San Antonio Zoo
Please click on the link at the bottom of this page to send a letter to the USDA via In Defense of Animal’s contact form.
After the elephant Queenie was sent to the San Antonio Zoo in April to join the unfortunate Lucky – amid great controversy and opposition from thousands of pro-elephant advocates around the country – IDA pledged to closely monitor their situation.
Elephants Queenie and Lucky at San Antonio ZooWe recently received alarming videotaped footage of dangerous aggression between Queenie and Lucky, and filed a complaint with the USDA, demanding they be removed from this unsafe situation caused by the very small size of their enclosure. (Note that the zoo now calls Queenie “Boo,” so IDA uses that name in the complaint.)
Backed by one of the world’s leading elephant scientists, ElephantVoices co-director Dr. Joyce Poole, who has been studying elephant behavior in Africa and Asia for more than 30 years, the complaint warned of dire consequences should Lucky and Queenie continue to be held in the zoo’s outdated exhibit. In behavioral observations provided to the USDA, Dr. Poole observed aggressive behavior by Boo toward Lucky:
“Lucky is being terrorized by Boo [Queenie]. This kind of persistent bullying is not seen in the wild, because elephants have other activities with which to occupy themselves, and because they can remove themselves from conflict, if need be. In my opinion, the primary cause of this undesirable situation is that the elephants have too little space.”
The zoo, and not the elephants, is to blame for this predicament. Lucky and Queenie are victims of an outdated system that allows zoos to keep two elephants weighing more than four tons each in a space smaller than many backyards. In such restricted conditions, an elephant is going to get hurt.
IDA strongly urges the USDA to act immediately to avert a tragedy at the San Antonio Zoo. We’re calling for the removal of the elephants and their transfer to a natural-habitat sanctuary where they would have room to move and could choose their companions. Until that can take place, IDA is asking the USDA to require constant monitoring of the elephants by the zoo.
The San Antonio Zoo acquired Queenie following a settlement facilitated by the USDA with abusive circus handler Will Davenport, who was facing charges for multiple violations of the Animal Welfare Act. IDA opposed the move, which forced Queenie and Lucky to coexist in a less than half-acre exhibit that is too small even for one elephant. Unfortunately, our prediction that the integration of these elephants would be highly problematic, and even dangerous, has become a sad reality.