Edmonton Valley Zoo director Denise Prefontaine says Lucy the elephant will stay where she is, despite a decision by Calgary Zoo to move its four Asian elephants elsewhere.
On Thursday, the Calgary Zoo announced plans to relocate its endangered elephants to another accredited zoo within the next four to five years. The Calgary Zoo's president, Clément Lanthier, said that relocating the animals to "a larger social group" would be in their best interest.
The Valley Zoo "supports the decision," Prefontaine said in a statement, noting that the Valley Zoo’s African elephant, Samantha, was relocated to a breeding herd at the North Carolina Zoo in 2007.
Lucy, the remaining Asian elephant at the Valley Zoo, "has a respiratory condition which precludes any thought of placing her in a stressful situation, such as transporting her and/or placing her with unfamiliar caregivers or in an unfamiliar environment," the zoo said.
"Moving Lucy would be life-threatening and this is a risk that we cannot and will not take."
It’s anticipated the Calgary Zoo's lone bull, Spike, will be moved out first in co-operation with the Miami zoo — which still owns him —and after consultation with the Asian Elephant Species Survival Plan.
The Calgary Zoo's three female elephants — Kamala, Swarna and Maharani (and her calf, due next February) — will be kept together as a family unit when they are moved, officials said.
Toronto city council voted in October to move elephants at the Toronto Zoo to a facility run by PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Society) near Galt, Calif.
Former Price is Right host and animal rights activist Bob Barker has been lobbying publicly for years to have elephants that are housed at Canadian zoos relocated to a warmer climate.
"I don't think there should be elephants in Canada," Barker told CBC’s Carole MacNeil in December. "I love Canada and I love Canadians, but it's not the place for elephants and I think it's becoming obvious to the people up there.