Urge Brookfield Zoo to Send Lone Elephant to a Sanctuary and Shut Down Elephant Exhibit

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Originally Posted: 23 May 2009

Urge Brookfield Zoo to Send Lone Elephant to a Sanctuary and Shut Down Elephant Exhibit

From In Defense of Animals (IDA)

Please write to Brookfield Zoo director Stuart Strahl and politely urge him to send Christy, now the lone elephant at Brookfield Zoo, to a sanctuary without delay. And urge him to shut down the zoo's elephant exhibit for good.


Stuart D. Strahl, PhD
Director, Brookfield Zoo
3300 Golf Road
Brookfield, IL 60513
pone (708) 688-8300
fax (708) 688-7309


Late last week, a 39-year-old African elephant, Affie, died prematurely at the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois. While no cause of death has been released, she likely suffered from painful foot and/or joint disease, conditions prevalent in zoos due to inadequate conditions for elephants.

IDA immediately filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, stating: “If in fact Affie did succumb to a disease caused by zoo conditions, the Brookfield Zoo should be found in violation of the Animal Welfare Act.” We also called for the zoo to immediately send the sole remaining elephant, Christy, to a sanctuary and shut down its elephant exhibit.

In response to IDA, the zoo issued a statement and further comments that contained a number of gross misrepresentations and falsehoods.

IDA today released its own statement of fact, setting the record straight.

It would be inhumane to continue to keep Christy at the Brookfield Zoo, especially now that she is alone. Bringing in another elephant is not the answer because the Zoo cannot provide a high quality of life for elephants. Even if the exhibit is further expanded, it will not significantly change overall conditions.

Elephants are highly intelligent and physically vigorous animals that hail from warm climates. In the wild, they range seven to fourteen miles or more per day, and are active for 20 out of 24 hours, as they forage, explore, socialize and raise their young. Yet, at Brookfield Zoo elephants are held in a cramped elephant exhibit where they spend the majority of the long Midwest winters in tiny indoor cages that do not allow for adequate movement or mental stimulation.

Simply put, the zoo just cannot provide the space and natural conditions elephants need to live long and healthy lives. This is being proven with the death of each additional elephant. Seven elephants have died at the Brookfield Zoo since 1975; more than half did not live to age 40. Elephants have a natural lifespan of 60-70 years.

Help us urge the Brookfield Zoo to do the right thing and send Christy to a natural-habitat sanctuary where she would have a life much closer to what nature intended for Earth’s largest land mammals. Sanctuaries have received elephants from many Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoos. Eighteen zoos have closed or plan to close their elephant exhibits.

For more information, visit Save Zoo Elephants and read Last Elephant in Town Faces Heartbreak.

Thank you for everything you do for animals!

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