Elephant escapes from New Bedford zoo, faces freezing temperatures

Ruth and Emily are Asian elephants that live at Buttonwood Zoo in New Bedford. (Photo via Facebook)
Ruth and Emily are Asian elephants that live at Buttonwood Zoo in New Bedford. (Photo via Facebook)

An Asian elephant managed to escape from Buttonwood Zoo in New Bedford on Friday, exposing the animal to freezing winter temperatures.

Representatives for the zoo say Ruth, a 55-year-old elephant, is being watched closely by staff in the aftermath of her escape.

“Our highest priority is that Ruth recovers fully from the traumatic experience,” Keith Lovett, director of the Buttonwood Park Zoo, told the New Bedford Standard Times. 

Ruth managed to escape during the snowstorm on Friday between 5 and 7 a.m. because zookeepers forgot to padlock her door. Ruth was able to push it open and freely exit her heated barn, the story continued.

Local weather stations reported temperatures of -6 to -8 at the time Ruth escaped.

“We are worried about frostbite on her extremities,” said Lovett. “She is in good health and doing well so far.”

A group advocating for Ruth and fellow elephant Emily to be relocated to The Elephant Sanctuary has gathered steam over last year. In addition to gathering petition signatures and garnering significant attention from the press, Send Ruth & Emily to the Elephant Sanctuary is a current Facebook page with heavy support. The group hopes the elephants will be relocated to sanctuary, where there is a warmer climate and extensive space for them to explore.

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