Canadian authors call on Edmonton to move zoo elephant
Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Nino Ricci, Jane Urquhart, Barbara Gowdy and 31 other Canadian authors are calling on Edmonton's mayor and council to move Lucy the elephant from the city-owned Valley Zoo.
The authors sent a letter urging the city to get an independent assessment of the Asian elephant's health and to move her out of the zoo.
"The zoo's position that Lucy is better left where she is contradicts everything that science tells us about elephants," author Elizabeth Abbott said in a news release from animal welfare group Zoocheck Canada.
"Their position is nonsensical. Think about it. A socially isolated elephant in a small exhibit in a cold-climate zoo — this shouldn't even be up for debate."
Lucy is the only elephant in a Canadian zoo that lives alone. She has been on her own since September 2007 when the Valley Zoo's other elephant, Samantha, was moved to be part of a breeding program at a zoo in North Carolina.
In the letter, the 36 authors cite Lucy's isolation as one of the reasons they feel she should be moved to "more suitable accommodation," such as the two elephant sanctuaries in the United States who have offered to take her.
"The science is unequivocal. Elephants are wide-ranging, extremely intelligent, highly social animals that should never be kept alone," the letter says.
This is not the first time Zoocheck has engaged some well-known public figures in its campaign to get Lucy moved from the Valley Zoo.
In February, retired U.S. game show host and animal rights advocate Bob Barker called on the city to move Lucy to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, one of the sanctuaries that has offered to take her.
Lucy has been dealing with several illnesses, including foot infections and arthritis, according to health records obtained by Zoocheck Canada, an animal welfare organization.
Officials at the Valley Zoo, where Lucy has lived for 30 years, have rebuffed offers to relocate the elephant because they say a move could aggravate her health problems.
Lucy was breathing through her mouth because of a wrongly positioned molar, but veterinarians are waiting to see if the tooth will fall out on its own, Dean Treichel, operations supervisor at the Valley Zoo said in February.