The Hogle Zoo In Utah Shuts Down Its Elephant Exhibit After Being Named Among In Defense of Animals’ 10 Worst Zoos

Animal activists rejoice as the Hogle Zoo in Utah announces that they are shutting down their elephant exhibit. The  zoo has twice ranked among In Defense of Animals (IDA’s) annual list of the 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants in North America. 

“We are glad that the zoo agrees with us that they cannot provide for the complex needs of the world’s largest land mammals. We urge the Hogle Zoo to make the compassionate choice and send Christie and Zuri to an elephant sanctuary, and not to another zoo. That way, they can begin to experience their lives as the free, far-roaming animals they were born to be,” said Courtney Scott, Elephant Consultant for In Defense of Animals. IDA has been calling for an end to the elephant exhibit for three years.

Sadly, the zoo is reportedly sending the elephants to another zoo for breeding. Baby elephants born in zoos die with shocking frequency. Male and female elephants are restrained and forced to endure repeated invasive procedures. The breeding programs also fail to counter zoos’ high elephant death rate and cannot repopulate fast enough to sustain elephant numbers.

The Hogle Zoo horrifically kept mother-daughter duo Christie and Zuri alone in a small, cold-weather enclosure. Keeping only two female elephants together violates the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ elephant standards that recommend larger social groupings.

In 2020, during the pandemic, the Hogle Zoo began offering a brand-new revenue-generating “feeding experience,” which allowed members of the public to come into close or direct contact with elephants’ trunks. Shockingly, this included very young children and even infants. The spaces in-between the barrier through which the elephant’s trunks emerged were large enough for an elephant to grab a child. Potentially unpredictable elephant behavior is the reason behind protected contact, a life-saving AZA standard requiring an effective barrier between elephants, the public, and zoo staff.

The high-profile killing of captive gorilla Harambe at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2016, after a child entered his zoo exhibit, is a tragic example of how human contact can potentially be a danger to both animals and children.

The tip of an elephant’s trunk is akin to the nostrils on a human face; where transmissible diseases are present. Touching these parts of an elephant potentially poses a risk of disease. Captivity also compromises elephants’ immune systems. Tuberculosis, a deadly, highly infectious disease, has long existed in U.S. captive elephant populations.

In Defense of Animals encourages people to avoid visiting any elephant attraction, and urges zoos to phase out their exhibits and send elephants to accredited sanctuaries where their needs are prioritized over profits.

Content courtesy of In Defense of Animals. Help them continue fighting for animals, people, and the environment by making a donation HERE!

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