Ex-NHLer Laraque offers $100K to move elephant
"I just want to help," Laraque told CBC News. "This situation is making Edmonton look bad and Edmonton is my home. This is where I live and I want the situation to stop."
The former Edmonton Oiler made the offer in a letter to Mayor Stephen Mandel which was made public Wednesday.
In the letter, Laraque outlines his concerns about Lucy's health and how he believes she would thrive being with other elephants in a sanctuary in a warmer climate.
"Because zoos can't begin to fulfil the social and physical needs of these highly intelligent animals, even zoos in far warmer areas have started to phase out their elephant exhibits," Laraque writes.
"Lucy's serious health problems and the signs of mental distress that she has long exhibited are reasons enough to send her to a sanctuary in a warmer climate, but I hope that my proposal creates even more incentive."
Lucy treated well, zoo vet says
Animal rights groups including Zoocheck and PETA have waged a high-profile campaign over the past couple of years urging the zoo to move the 35-year-old Asian elephant to a sanctuary in the United States.
They say Lucy receives excellent care by zoo staff and it would be dangerous to move her as it would aggravate her upper respiratory problems.
"Our point of view with Lucy has always been, we're going to do what's best for her and what we believe is best for her is for her to stay here at the Edmonton Valley Zoo," said Valley Zoo veterinarian Dr. Milton Ness.
Ness said Lucy's social needs are met by her strong bond with the people who care for her at the zoo.
With files from The Canadian Press