In Defense Of Animals Urges Feds To Investigate Tiki's Death

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In Defense Of Animals Urges Feds To Investigate Tiki's Death

From Catherine Doyle, In Defense of Animals (IDA)

In Defense Of Animals Urges Feds To Investigate Elephant Death At Wildlife Safari
Zoo Urged to Publicly Release Tiki’s Veterinary Records

San Rafael, Calif. (October 7, 2010) – In Defense of Animals (IDA) today filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), urging an investigation into the death of Tiki, a female African elephant held at the Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. Tiki died on Wednesday after suffering an unidentified illness.

“Tiki’s unexpected death raises a red flag because at age 40 she should have been in the prime of her life,” said Catherine Doyle, IDA Elephant Campaign director. “IDA has asked the USDA to investigate the  circumstances surrounding Tiki’s death as a matter of public interest and safety.”

In a separate letter sent to Wildlife Safari Executive Director Dan Van Slyke, IDA urged the zoo to publicly release the elephant’s veterinary records and necropsy reports, saying, “The public has a right to know the cause of Tiki’s death.”

IDA also expressed concern that the park now holds just one female elephant, Alice, in addition to a male, George. According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) elephant care standards, the park was already in violation of standards which state that zoos should “strive to hold no less than three female elephants wherever possible” due to their social nature. By holding one female elephant, the park falls even further below these standards and threatens elephant welfare. Highly social, elephants naturally live in large family groups; female offspring remain with their mothers for life.

AZA standards also strongly discourage visitor-elephant interactions, including elephant rides, “in the interest of public safety.” Yet Tiki and Alice have been used for rides, photo ops and to wash cars.

Tiki was taken from her family in the wild and brought to Wildlife Safari at age two, along with Alice. George arrived 17 years later. Elephants have a natural lifespan of 60-70 years, yet recent scientific studies show that elephants in zoos die decades earlier than those in relatively protected wild populations.