Animal rights group blasts Omaha Zoo about elephant care

Animal rights group blasts Omaha Zoo about elephant care
Warren (World-Herald News Service)

OMAHA, Neb. – In Defense of Animals (IDA), an international animal protection organization, placed Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium on a list of the top ten worst zoos for elephants.

In a press release Tuesday, the organization highlights the death of Warren, an African elephant who died while under anesthesia for a procedure to repair a cracked tusk. Twenty minutes into the procedure, he stopped breathing. Zoo vets took emergency measures, but they were unable to revive him. He had been the lone male in Omaha’s herd until the arrival of Louie last summer.

“Warren suffered a short, stolen life at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium,” IDA elephant scientist Toni Frohoff said. “Warren’s tragic story shows how elephants in captivity are treated as mere commodities to be traded for maximum profit, and bulls are simply the means to the bottom line: money. Conservation for elephants cannot be achieved in captivity, nor can it be achieved by stealing elephants from the wild to prop up dying and dysfunctional captive zoo populations.”

Warren was part of an import of 17 elephants last year from Swaziland to zoos in Omaha, Wichita and Dallas. When six of those animals arrived here in March 2016, it ended the zoo’s five-year drought without elephants. The African Grasslands exhibit, the elephants’ home, is the largest exhibit at the Omaha zoo.

The purpose of the male elephants is to breed with the Swaziland females and produce more calves for zoos.

IDA calls for the zoo to “radically modify is exploitative breeding and relocation plans for elephants. If these elephants won’t be placed in a certified sanctuary, the zoo should at least preserve what precious little remains of these elephants’ social and familial relationships.”

Top 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants, according to IDA

1. Topeka Zoo, Topeka, Kansas

2. Pittsburgh Zoo and International Conservation Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

3. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Omaha, Nebraska

4. Louisville Zoo, Louisville, Kentucky

5. Oregon Zoo, Portland, Oregon

6. Myrtle Beach Safari, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

7. Two Tails Ranch, Williston, Florida

8. St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis, Missouri

9. Natural Bridge Zoo, Rockbridge County, Virginia

10. Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, Columbia, South Carolina

Dishonorable Mentioned – Repeat Offenders

Edmonton Valley Zoo, Alberta, Canada

Bronx Zoo, Bronx, New York

The World-Herald News Service contributed to this report.

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