Lucy, a beautiful Asian elephant, arrived at the Valley Zoo on May 19, 1977. She came to Edmonton after being captured in Sri Lanka. Since there were no records of her birth, it was estimated that she was approximately two years of age – so Lucy is estimated to be 43 today! Lucy lived alone at the zoo for approximately 12 years. Then Samantha, a female African elephant, was brought to the zoo to keep Lucy company. In 2007, Samantha was sent to the North Carolina Zoo on a long-term breeding loan and Lucy has been alone since that time.
Lucy’s life in Edmonton does not even compare with the life she could be living if she was moved to a sanctuary. Currently, she lives a very solitary life with only human contact during “working hours”. Female elephants are highly social and suffer greatly when kept in isolation. Edmonton’s freezing winter weather and the zoo’s policy of locking Lucy indoors when the zoo is closed means that Lucy spends the majority of her time in a small barn. When she is allowed outside, she is restricted to an enclosure that is approximately one-half acre in size. Lucy exhibits signs of mental distress and has health issues—including upper respiratory problems, arthritis, obesity, and chronic foot ailments —attributable to inadequate conditions for the health and well-being of an elephant.
Both elephant and animal welfare experts agree that Lucy’s chronic health issues are exacerbated by being housed in a northern climate, which subjects her to confinement on cold, hard flooring, for the majority of the time. They also agree that her diseases are both chronic and advanced, and that she needs better living conditions and a more comprehensive program of medical attention than can be provided at the Valley Zoo in Edmonton. Lastly, they argue that keeping a female elephant alone, runs contrary not only to what science knows of elephants, but also national and international zoo association recommendations.
Despite strong scientific evidence, the City of Edmonton is resolute in their claim that Lucy is a well-adjusted healthy elephant overall and just fine where she is. In defense of their inaction in moving her to a sanctuary, they claim that Lucy is “too sick to move” and have convinced the media and their citizens that the “move will kill her”. However, they have never provided any medical evidence to that effect and have refused to broadened access to external experts to examine Lucy, continuing to allow only one external veterinarian to see her.
A number of experienced and renowned veterinarians world-wide have offered their support and services (at no cost to the City), yet the City and Zoo continue to insist that they have Lucy’s situation well in hand. Nonetheless, her condition continues to go undiagnosed – a situation that results in on-going pain and suffering for Lucy.
Please sign this petition asking the Mayor and City Council of Edmonton to ensure that Lucy is examined by an independent panel of elephant experts (a minimum of 9) to determine her medical condition (if any) and evaluate her “fitness” to travel to sanctuary. The experts chosen would be selected and agreed upon by both the City of Edmonton and Zoocheck Canada in order to ensure impartiality – affording the best advice for Lucy and all that care about her.
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