Animal Writes
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From 30 May 2004 Issue

Detroit Zoo Closes Elephant Exhibit

In May 2004, Michigan’s Detroit Zoo announced its precedent-setting decision to permanently close its elephant exhibit and retire two female Asian elephants, Winky and Wanda, to a sanctuary. The Detroit Zoo is the first zoo to voluntarily close its elephant exhibit for ethical reasons and the eighth U.S. zoo to stop exhibiting elephants in recent years.

In a memorandum that explained the decision, Detroit Zoo Director Ron Kagan stated, “Now we understand how much more is needed to be able to meet all the physical and psychological needs of elephants in captivity, especially in a cold climate.”

Both Winky, aged 51, and Wanda, aged 46, were captured in the wild as babies and have been companions at the Detroit Zoo since 1994. Among the few lucky captive elephants in North America to find retirement at a sanctuary, Winky and Wanda will have the opportunity to lead lives similar to those of elephants in the wild. Thanks to the Detroit Zoo’s humane decision, Winky and Wanda will enjoy full, enriching years of retirement, roaming through hundreds of acres of natural habitat in the company of many other elephants.

Under Director Ron Kagan, the Detroit Zoo has been a pioneer in animal welfare. It is one of the few zoos that takes in rescued animals and publicly denounces the mistreatment of animals in circuses. Please write to the director and thank him for making the compassionate decision to close the zoo’s elephant exhibit:

Ron Kagan, Director
Detroit Zoological Institute
8450 W. Ten Mile Rd.
Royal Oak, MI 48068-0039
248-398-0504 (fax)

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