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Help Elephants Sophie and Babe at Niabi Zoo in Illinois

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Originally Posted: June 16, 2013

Help Elephants Sophie and Babe at Niabi Zoo in Illinois

FROM In Defense of Animals (IDA)



Send a letter to the members of the Commission and urge them to make the compassionate decision to send Sophie and Babe together (this is imperative, since they are closely bonded) to a facility that will give them year round warmth, space, and the companionship of other elephants. If you are in the area, please attend the meeting and speak up in support of moving Sophie and Babe to a better place and a better life.

elephants Naibi ZooSign an online petition (copy/paste URL into your browser):

And/or better yet, make direct contact:

Attend the Rock Island County Forest Preserve Commission meeting
Monday, June 17th - 3pm

Write or call them today:
Rock Island County Building
1504 Third Avenue, 3rd Floor
Rock Island, IL 61201
(309) 558-3594


After more than a decade of living in the grossly antiquated exhibit at the Niabi Zoo in Coal Valley, Illinois, Sophie and Babe might finally have a chance for a better future.

Rock Island County officials recently hired zoo expert Alan Roocroft to review the zoo’s elephant program. Fortunately for Babe and Sophie, Mr. Roocroft recommended that the elephants be sent to a facility in a warmer climate that offers space for exercise and veterinary care for their existing and anticipated health problems. Mr. Roocroft also found the zoo’s elephant facility to be outdated, providing little to no stimulation for the elephants. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums pulled the Niabi Zoo’s accreditation in 2012 in large part due to the inadequate elephant exhibit.

Sophie and Babe are former Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performers. At ages 43 and 37, both Asian elephants have chronic health problems exacerbated by long, cold winters that keep them confined in their cramped barn, sometimes for 24 hours a day. Sophie’s health is especially bad—she suffers from arthritis, painful foot abscesses, and pressure sores that will only worsen if conditions for her remain unchanged.

It would cost the Niabi Zoo millions of dollars to bring the elephant exhibit up to modern standards—money the zoo does not have. Even with improvements, the elephants will still be forced inside for the majority of the bitterly cold winter. After serving the community for more than 10 years, Sophie and Babe deserve the opportunity to spend their remaining years in surroundings that can meet their needs.

A final decision on Sophie and Babe's future will be made by the Rock Island County Forest Preserve Commission, which has authority over the Niabi Zoo—and they need to hear from you.

The Commission will hold a public meeting on June 17th to further discuss Mr. Roocroft’s report.  

Thank you for everything you do for animals!

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