Photo of Maggie taken recently. Note her sunken cheeks. This does not look like a healthy happy elephant to me.
There has been a tug of war for years between the animal welfare community and the Alaska Zoo regarding Maggie. The Zoo obviously thought she was fine, basically wanted people to butt out of their business and wanted her to stay. (They were even thinking of getting a treadmill for her!!) But, Maggie seems to have lost an awful lot of weight recently and in the past few weeks she has been laying on her side and then not been able to get up. They had to call in the fire department to work with getting her back on her feet. (An elephant cannot lay on its side for very long due to its own weight that can crush internal organs.)
The Alaska Zoo board finally agreed this week to relocate Maggie. I am REALLY hoping it is not too late. She may go to another zoo, or to a sanctuary. While I would love her to go to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, I think the trip from Alaska would prove to be too much for her.
So I'm asking everyone who reads this blog to please say a prayer for Maggie. If you don't believe in prayer, please send positive thoughts her way. Tell her to not give up and to hold on a little longer. I pray there are better and brighter days ahead for her.
Keep the faith Maggie!
One thing I want to add. I think the VAST, VAST majority of folks working IN zoos really DO care for the animals they are charged to look after. (No one I know gets rich working at a zoo.)But when you get big institutions involved (the American Zoological Association), they always seem very quick to defend themselves and the practices they have been using for years. They also seem to dismiss new research and those who question their practices as uneducated, crazy animal activists. I think there is a new era coming in captive elephant management that the more progressive zoos are tuning into. The Philadelphia Zoo, the Detroit Zoo, and the LA Zoo have all closed their elephant exhibits believing they could not ethically keep these animals because of either lack of space or the cold climate. What does the AZA do when this happens. Well, with the Detroit Zoo, they threatened to take away their accreditation if they decided to close the elephant exhibit. After the head of the Detroit Zoo made the decision to close their elephant exhibit....he resigned. Update: I was wrong, Ron Kagan, the head of the Detroit Zoo did not resign after making the courageous decision to close the elephant exhibit. As of the fall of 2006, he was still the Director. (I needed to double check that, as it is amazing how fast information gets thrown around on the internet and I didn't want to be on of those people giving out false information.)