The Bronx Zoo has been declared the fifth worst zoo for elephants in the United States.
International animal rights organization In Defense of Animals says the zoo doesn’t provide the “space, resources, or the weather conditions that elephants need to live a reasonable, healthy life.”
The zoo made the list because the elephant named Happy is “suffering” in “solitary confinement,” separated from the other two elephants at the zoo, according to the organization. Happy has been isolated since 2006 when tight quarters caused the other two elephants, Maxine and Patty, to attack her.
Dr. Toni Frohoff, elephant and cetacean scientist for In Defense of Animals, said Happy was part of a study on elephant self-awareness that was published in 2006. The elephant recognized herself in the mirror. Frohoff said elephants are among the “most social animals in the world, including humans,” and have complex social structures and the desire to roam.
The Bronx Zoo announced in 2006 that they plan to close the zoo after one of the elephants, who are in their 40s, dies.
“We say why wait, why do tomorrow what can be done today,” Frohoff said. “I think it is self-evident that this is a bad zoo, and the Bronx Zoo has an opportunity to go from being a villain to being a hero, if they release the elephants before one of them dies.”
This is the fourth time the Bronx Zoo has made the worst elephants list since it was started 11 years ago, and was listed in 2013, 2012 and 2009.
Three out of the 10 worst zoos on this year’s list are in New York State, with the Buffalo Zoo and the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse making the list.
Calls and emails to the Bronx Zoo were not returned.
New York lawmakers are also concerned with the treatment of elephants in the state. Sen. Brad Hoylman of Manhattan has re-introduced a bill that would ban the use of whips and electric shock against the animals. Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal has also written a bill that would make animal cruelty in the presence of a child a crime.