At the Buffalo Zoo in Western New York, two elephants named Jothi and Surapa are living in small enclosures with only half an acre of space to walk on. The elephants don’t even have grass in their enclosures, just concrete floors to walk on and two logs and a rubber tire for entertainment. When they’re not living here, they’re locked in a 20 x 20 cage, which is nowhere near large enough to comfortably house two elephants.
In a nutshell, their ‘’home’’ is anything but homey. It’s no wonder the Buffalo Zoo was ranked sixth worst on In Defense of Animal’s worst zoos for elephants list.
Fortunately, there is an escape for these two poor elephants but it’s going to take a lot of signatures for it to happen. But we must not lose hope. Together, we can help these elephants find freedom and say goodbye to their years of confinement and torment.
Lack of Exercise, Toxic Fumes, Cold Climate and Health Problems
We’ve said it so many times before: elephants do not belong in zoos. And if you saw how they live in the wild, in their natural habitat, you would understand why they do not and will never belong in zoos. In nature, elephants will roam up to 50 miles a day and spend their days doing typical elephant behaviors like running, turning, digging, and climbing. They are also accustomed to a tropical climate and a variety of landscape features including gullies and slopes, as well as a variety of textures such as dust, mud, pools and wallows to name a few.
With only half an acre of land to walk on and the only terrain being concrete, there’s no way these elephants would be able to meet their daily walking recommendations in this small amount of space. As for stimulation, all they have in their enclosure are two logs and a large rubber tire which certainly won’t entertain them much.
Sadly, lack of stimulation has taken a physical and mental toll on these two. In the video below from In Defense of Animals, we see Jothi and Surapa mindlessly rocking back and forth.
This sort of head bobbing is known as a stereotype and is commonly witnessed amongst captive elephants. Scientists have coined the term zoochosis to define the mental stress and illness that captive animals experience. These creatures are highly complex and dynamic animals, and when they are deprived of their natural environment and forced to suppress their natural instincts, they suffer from deep mental distress. Rocking back and forth is thought to be a sort of outward manifestation of their anxiety and stress. As you can see in this video, these elephants seem anything but happy.
According to In Defense of Animals, when asked about the conditions these elephants are subject to, zoo president Donna Fernandes said that the elephants, “…can move back and forth. They can turn around.” This is hardly a satisfactory response from someone who is supposed to be responsible for the well-being of these animals.
In addition to these concerns, the climate of Buffalo, New York is hardly suitable for Asian elephants who are used to a warm, tropical climate. In the winter, Buffalo temperatures can easily dip below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, forcing the elephants to stay indoors. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums requires that captive elephants be kept in a herd of at least three animals – however, there are only two in this facility.
How You Can Help
With all these factors in mind, it’s no wonder there have been so many negative reviews and complaints made against this zoo. You only have to take a look Trip Advisor to know that this zoo is anything but animal-friendly.
If you read some of their reviews, you will hear the same thing repeated over and over again: “Too small,” “Sad!” “Depressing,” “Cramped” and many other negative connotations. One review said the elephants are “lethargic and in areas way too small for them.” Another review said one of the elephants was in a cage so small she could not turn around.
Fortunately, there is a way out for these two elephants and it lies in the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee. The sanctuary has kindly agreed to house the elephants under one condition: the Buffalo Zoo must voluntarily give them up. What we need is signatures – and lots of them!
Sign this petition asking the Buffalo Zoo to give up Jothi and Surapa voluntarily so that they can find freedom at a new sanctuary where they’ll get lots of love, space, and care. Once you’ve done that, be sure to share this article in a bid to get as many signatures as we can!
Image source: 0meer/Shutterstock