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Detroit Zoo Told It Can't Send Elephants to Sanctuary

On May 20, a story on the front page of the Detroit Free Press reported the wonderful news that Detroit Zoo was to become the first zoo to voluntarily release its elephants to a sanctuary for ethical reasons. However, the September 3 edition of the Free Press reported, "Zoo told it can't send elephants to sanctuary."
The article reports that a committee of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association has decided that the elephants at the Zoo, Winky and Wanda, must now be sent to the Columbus Zoo in Ohio instead.

Contact Ron Kagan, director of the Detroit Zoo and thank him for his compassionate, ethical decision to retire the elephants. Let him know that the entire humane community stands behind his decision.

Ron Kagan, Director
Detroit Zoological Institute
8450 W. Ten Mile Rd.
Royal Oak, MI 48068-0039
Tel.: (248) 398-0900
Fax: (248) 398-0504
Online comment form:  http://www.detroitzoo.org/critters2.html

2. Contact the AZA and urge them to allow the Detroit Zoo to retire the elephants without losing its accreditation:

Syd Butler, LL.B.
Executive Director
The American Zoo and Aquarium Association
8403 Colesville Rd., Ste. 710
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3314
Tel.: (301) 562-0777
Fax: (301) 562-0888
E-mail:  Sbutler@aza.org

Article By Detroit Free Press 11.Sep.2004 02:22

IDA reposted by beagle

Zoo told it can't send elephants to sanctuary

September 3, 2004


The Detroit Zoo's plan to send aging, arthritic elephants Winky and Wanda to a sanctuary was blocked Thursday.

If the pachyderms go anywhere, it must be to the Columbus Zoo in Ohio, decided a committee of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, the group that provides care standards and accreditation to zoos nationwide.

"The Columbus Zoo has five elephants -- including a male calf -- and 4 acres, including a 1-acre, indoor heated, temperature-controlled facility," said AZA Director Sydney Butler. "The committee found this is the right place to send these two elephants."

Detroit Zoo Director Ron Kagan declared in May that Detroit would be the nation's first major zoo to voluntarily give up its elephants solely on ethical grounds. Even though Detroit's 1-acre enclosure vastly exceeds AZA standards, Kagan said zoos -- especially in northern climates -- are generally not capable of providing for the social, physical and emotional needs of the animals.

He expected to send Winky and Wanda to one of two U.S. sanctuaries. There, they would be able to roam hundreds of acres and get more exercise like they would in the wild, where elephants can walk 30 miles a day.

Kagan said Thursday he needed to digest the AZA recommendation but suggested the zoo might appeal.

"I don't think a lot has changed as far as our intent," he said. "There is an appeal process, and we'll obviously do that if we feel it's appropriate."

Violating the AZA recommendation by sending the elephants to a sanctuary could mean disciplinary action against the Detroit Zoo and possible revocation of the association's accreditation. There could be further repercussions for sending Wanda elsewhere, because that elephant is on loan to Detroit from the San Antonio Zoo, which supports the AZA recommendation.

"Loss of accreditation is way down the line, and I trust this can be worked out," said Butler.

Kagan's intent to send the elephants to a sanctuary drew widespread public praise but alarmed many in the nation's zoo community who believe that zoos are fully capable of providing good lives for elephants.

The AZA's Species Survival Plan Committee is charged with overseeing the management of the U.S. captive elephant population in AZA-accredited facilities.

Had the committee declared the Detroit elephants as surplus, rather than making a specific recommendation, Detroit would have been free to send them to a sanctuary, barring an objection from the San Antonio Zoo.

Contact HUGH McDIARMID JR. at 248-351-3295 or  mcdiarmid@freepress.com.

Winky and Wanda error 11.Sep.2004 13:30

mr butlet knows

Subject: Winky and Wanda error
To:  Sbutler@aza.org

Mr. Butler,

It has come to my attention that the Detroit Zoo
wishes to place the two elephants into a better
setting. Their first choice was to one of two U.S.
sanctuaries. There, they would be able to roam
hundreds of acres and get more exercise like they
would in the wild, where elephants can walk 30 miles a

It is my understanding that you have choosen to send
these two animals to a zoo in Ohio. This is
disappointing to hear and one of the reasons since
I've become educated, I have avoided going to zoos.

It is my hope that upon the Detriot's appeal of your
unwise decision, that you will correct your error and
allow these animals to goto one of the two sanctuaries
that the Detriot Zoo initially wanted to send them to
in the first place. Free Winky and Wanda!


Detroit Zoo Rocks 11.Sep.2004 16:04

Den Mark, Vancouver

I've been following this story & cheering for Detroit Zoo. I contacted AZA & got an answer that essentially said that they've made their decision. Please, more people contact them. Let AZA know that we are following this. Up the pressure.

As for Oregon Zoo, which has elephant facilties far below the level of Detroit's, we should also pressure them, to send their elephants to sanctuary.
Elephants are not crickets, & deserve far more than a proportionally larger cricket house.