A recent dustup between the San Francisco Zoo and its accrediting association has highlighted the growing influence of elephant sanctuaries.
Largely unknown a few years ago, there are now two well known sanctuaries where pachyderms that are old for zoo life or otherwise in need of a break can go, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday.
One is in Hohenwald, Tenn., and the other is in San Andreas, Calif.
One or the other will be home to two African elephants, Lulu and Tinkerbelle, currently in the San Francisco Zoo.
Facing pressure from animal rights activists after the deaths of two other elephants earlier this year, zoo director Manuel Mollinedo decided on June 2 to send Lulu and Tinkerbelle to San Andreas or Hohenwald -- defying the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, which had recommended other zoos instead.
Although the San Francisco Zoo risks losing AZA accreditation, Mollinedo said African elephant Lulu and Asian elephant Tinkerbelle, both solitary 38-year-olds, needed a lot more space and pals than any zoo could provide.