PETA Continues Battle to Retire Ailing Elephants to Sanctuary
Posted at 1:28 PM (PDT) on Monday, May 3, 2004

Hot-Weather Animals’ Health in Decline After a Year at Lincoln Park Zoo

May 3, 2004

Nicole Meyer 757-622-7382

Chicago — Holding signs reading, "Lincoln Park Zoo: A Cold, Cruel Place for Elephants," PETA members will turn up the pressure on the Lincoln Park Zoo to retire three aging and ailing female African elephants to a sanctuary by protesting directly in front of the elephant exhibit on the zoo’s grounds:

Date: Tuesday, May 4
Time: 12 noon
Place: Elephant exhibit, Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St.

All three elephants — who were discarded by the San Diego Wild Animal Park to make space for new, young elephants, captured in Africa — have been visibly suffering since arriving at Lincoln Park Zoo one year ago. In addition to the fact that they have spent many cold months warehoused in a concrete back room, one elephant has sustained a crippling leg injury, another is losing weight, and the third continually sways from side to side—a neurotic condition indicating severe stress. The injured elephant is apparently being kept from public display, which has led to speculation that her condition has worsened. Lincoln Park Zoo has refused to disclose the elephants’ medical records, keeper logs, and daily activity reports.

Last December, actor and Chicago native Gillian Anderson wrote to the zoo’s director, Kevin Bell, pleading that he send the three elephants to a sanctuary with a climate and conditions that are more appropriate for African elephants. PETA has offered to pay for the animals’ transport to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. Ray Ryan, who cared for the elephants as their keeper for five years in San Diego and will be attending the protest, has stated, "It is my firm belief that these elephants are dying in their new environment, and if not retired to a sanctuary soon, will not last more than a few years at Lincoln Park Zoo."

"Zoo officials are interested in cash cows, and that deafened them to public pleas not to accept these elephants in the first place," says PETA Director Debbie Leahy. "Now they’re refusing to retire the elephants to a sanctuary and trying to cover up obvious signs that the animals are suffering."

Broadcast-quality footage of the three elephants is available. For more information, please visit PETA’s Web site