Friday, August 15, 2008

Jenny the elephant and the Dallas Zoo

I read a story this morning about a 32 year old elephant in Dallas who, after being snatched from the wild and suffering horribly at the hands of a circus trainer known for his cruelty, ended up at the Dallas Zoo. According to the New York Times article I read, Jenny suffered (and still suffers) for years from depression and the equivalent of post-traumatic stress disorder. Now, after her latest companion has died, the zoo wants to send her off to a Mexican safari -- a drive-through zoo.

Elephant experts and protesters are fighting to have her sent to this quiet sanctuary in Tennessee, where she can live out her remaining years free of stress and away from the public. She's been the center of attention in Dallas news, where most seem to be voicing the opinion that this emotionally disturbed elephant -- who's displayed extreme aggression towards both people and other elephants and who's engaged in serious self-mutilation requiring the administration of heavy tranquilizers -- deserves better than to be a pawn in some zoo lobbyists' political game. According to the Dallas Zoo's website, in Mexico Jenny would be housed in a 4.9 acre elephant educational exhibit with two other females and a breeding male, where she would ''continue to offer visitors an appreciation of the natural world''. In Tennessee, Jenny would have free range of 300 acres with three other elephants, and only sanctuary staff would have contact with her.

This document from In Defense of Animals purportedly provides a history of Jenny's behaviour and subsequent treatment and makes a strong case for her being relocated to a quiet and more secluded place, bringing up repeated examples of her inability to cohabitate with other elephants without heavy sedation, and of her strong aversion to noise and activity around her -- all of which would be obvious issues at a safari park.

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