Animal Writes
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From 4 July 2004 Issue


Elephant Trainer with Tarnished Past Brought to Knoxville Zoo to "Assist"

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

CONTACT: Jane Garrison 843-343-8887

Knoxville, TN the elephant (who was torn from her companion of 16 years at the Los Angeles Zoo and sent to the Knoxville Zoo where she has been isolated from the other elephants), a trainer with a history of using corporal punishment has been brought to the zoo to "assist" with the long overdue integration process.

The elephant trainer, Alan Roocroft, became known to the public and the animal protection community more than 10 years ago when he used harsh "discipline" on an African elephant named Dunda at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. Keepers conceded they "chained Dunda by all 4 legs, pulled her to the ground and struck her head with ax handles." This beating went on for an extended period of time. Roocroft appears to support such abusive behavior toward elephants as cited in his book Managing Elephants. Roocroft states, "When corporal punishment is administered to an elephant, it has to be fairly forceful 'one might need to strike the elephant' a solid blow with a fairly heavy implement. The handling of problem elephants requires a
well-drilled team - a crew of at least eight, preferably ten, in order to insure sufficient 'muscle'."

Jane Garrison, a well respected Elephant Specialist states, "I fear now more than ever for Rubyıs physical and emotional well-being and urge the zoo to sever all ties with Alan Roocroft immediately. Ruby is not the problem - she is the victim of a bad decision by the Los Angeles Zoo. It is time that the Knoxville and Los Angeles Zoos admit that transferring Ruby was a mistake and allow Ruby to retire to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee where she can roam thousands of acres with other retired elephants."

Background: Ruby the elephant was transferred to the Knoxville Zoo from the Los Angeles Zoo May 2003 despite protests from the public that it was cruel to separate Ruby from her long time companion Gita. A taxpayer lawsuit followed and is still pending.

For more info about the lawsuit and Ruby, visit Save Ruby,
For more info about The Elephant Sanctuary, visit 

There is no justification for employing someone like Alan Roocroft.

Please write to the contacts below and tell them it is obviously time for the L.A. and Knoxville zoos to finally admit that Ruby's integration has failed. They must not try to beat her into compliance. At this point, for the sake of Ruby's physical and mental well-being, she must be moved out of the Knoxville Zoo. After 40 years of public service, Ruby deserves to be retired to The Elephant Sanctuary, about a four-hour drive from the Knoxville Zoo.

For more information on Ruby, please visit 


Jim Vlna, Director
Knoxville Zoo
3500 Knoxville Zoo Drive
Knoxville, Tennessee 37914
Phone: (865) 637-5331
Fax: (865) 637-1943
Email: [email protected] 

Knoxville News - Letters to the Editor
[email protected] 

John Lewis, Director
Los Angeles Zoo
5333 Zoo Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90027-1498
Phone: (323) 644-4200
Fax: (323) 662-9786
Email: [email protected] 

Mayor James Hahn
200 North Spring Street, Room 303
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 978-0600
Fax: (213) 978-0656
E-mail: [email protected] or [email protected] 

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