Skip to comments.Bronx Zoo to eventually phase out elephant exhibit
Posted on 02/08/2006 8:28:54 AM PST by presidio9
Maxine, Patty and Happy are in their mid-30s and likely to live a very long time. But someday, their deaths will precipitate the end of their habitat - the elephant exhibit at the Bronx Zoo.
The three female Asian pachyderms are in good health, but the zoo will not replace them after they die, said Steve Sanderson, president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the Bronx Zoo.
Once the Bronx Zoo closes its elephant exhibit - whenever that may be - New York City will be left with no pachyderm exhibits. The elephant exhibits at the Central Park and Prospect Park zoos, also run by the WCS, were closed the 1980s.
"The thing we want the public to understand is that we have a commitment to these animals," Sanderson said Tuesday. "We're not going to close up and walk away. ... We'll judge that according to their health, their reproductive status, always with their welfare in mind."
The three elephants could well live another 30 years.
But, Sanderson said, "We're not going to rebuild the social group" when Maxine, Patty or Happy die - a move that would necessitate another 50-year commitment by the zoo.
The $58,000 it spends each year on each elephant could instead be steered to the WCS's elephant conservation work in Asia and Africa, Sanderson said, where it already spends $2 million a year in 10 countries.
He explained that elephants "are among the most complicated animals socially." They thrive on a matriarchal system in which the senior female governs. Tuss, the governing matriarch for Maxine, Patty and Happy, died in 2002 at the age of about 50 or 60. The three elephants showed signs of distress afterward and still have not figured out their internal hierarchy, Sanderson said.
Maxine, Patty and Happy live in a two-acre corral, an environment that their keepers enrich with toys, logs, and food placed in different areas to ensure that they get exercise.
"We have exceeded the standards in exhibitry for a long, long time," Sanderson said. "We have been very happy, but for some years we've been looking at future prospects. They're big, expensive animals who are very social. ... As we looked at our aging herd ... we knew we had to look forward."
When only one of the three elephant is left, the WCS will then move it to one of the 210 accredited zoos around the country, "but only if we found the right circumstances," said Sanderson.
That's really sad to read. I enjoyed seeing that exhibit. Elephants are pretty impressive close up.
The end result of total pc correctness. The hippies who run these places think we go there to see twenty five or thirty more ring-tailed lemurs. I am a Republican. When I take my kid to the zoo, I want him to see elephants and be inspired.
Yesh, what the heck is a Zoo doing keeping animals anyway?
Glad to hear that they will have none.
Now all they have to do is get rid of the rest of those pesky animals and stop calling themselves a Zoo.
I got in the wrong freakin business!!!!!! 58K a year???? I'll bet 50% of that is administrative, and that wont be saved, ever. Now it is all administrative!!!
They actually tried to stop calling themsleves a zoo a few years ago. They changed there name to Bronx Wildlife Conservation Center, and made a big deal out of it. They insisted that people start using the correct name. After a few years of everybody ignoring them, they eventually relented and changed the name back.
I don't get it, no more Elephants on the Bengali Express monorail?
They should rebuild a new exhibit similar to what they did for the Gorilla Encounter.
You may recall that Homer had to sell Stampy to an ivory magnate to pay for his food bills.
Let me guess, the donkeys will be saved?
I think its a little more complicated than this artilce presents.
The trend in zoos today, with the problems involving endangered species - and elephants ARE endangered - see the National Geogrpahic sit for a horrific article on a massacre of elephants by gnagster poachers - is for zoos to "specialize" in certain species and concentrate on providing the ones they maintain with an optimal environment and breed them.
Elephants are extremely interesting animals, and, as the article DOES state, highly intelligent with very complex social structures. (I guess that's why Republicans chose elephants and Democrats chose jackasses as their respective symbols.)
They would be better maintained in some kind of large open facility where a herd could be kept under more or less natural conditions. There simply isn't enoough room in the Bronx Zoo to maintain these animals properly.
But I agree, it is interesting to watch them, and unless people can enjoy doing so, the rationale for protecting them is lost on most people.