IDA applauds the Calgary Zoo for deciding to end its Asian elephant program after 40 years, and for the right reasons: lack of space, a cold climate that prohibits year-round outdoor access, and a small social group.
The zoo holds one male and four female elephants, one of whom is pregnant. The closure will take place in the next four to five years. Unfortunately, the zoo plans to send the elephants to another facility where breeding can continue, despite the fact that urban zoos cannot provide adequate conditions for the elephants already in captivity. The Calgary Zoo has lost one elephant calf to the elephant herpes virus, putting any calves born into the group at risk of contracting the lethal disease.
IDA hopes the Calgary Zoo's decision will send a loud and clear message to the many zoos holding elephants in tiny displays in cold weather areas. It's what IDA has long been saying all along: if a zoo can' meet the physical, social and psychological needs of elephants, it simply should not keep them.
The Calgary Zoo stated that the welfare of the elephants drove its decision. We can only hope that when it comes time to shutter its exhibit, the zoo will see that a sanctuary is the best option for the elephants.