The Cincinnati Zoo has landed on a new list of the worst zoo's in North America for elephants. In Defense of Animals calls the elephant exhibit there, an elephant pressure cooker. It has released video showing what they call severe aggression and suffering of the four captive Asian elephants sharing the 1 acre space.
The video shows the elephants pulling each others tails, biting each other and banging their heads on the exhibit doors. In Defense of Animals calls the exhibit "ludicrously small" for an elephant and says "it is only a matter of time before the pressure cooker turns into tragedy".
The Cincinnati Zoo is in the process of expanding the exhibit to give the elephants more room to roam but the animal rights group says the expansion should be abandoned and wants the elephants released to an accredited sanctuary where they say they would truly have room to roam.
UPDATE: The Cincinnati Zoo has released a response to the accusations from IDA, saying the group is unaccredited and that it has an agenda to shut down all elephant habitats. The zoo says its recently-announced plans to build "a world-class elephant facility most likely landed us on the list."
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is home to four Asian elephants, a species that is critically endangered. Its elephant program is well respected and exceeds Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) rigorous expectations and requirements.
The Zoo’s elephant team has more than 100 years of combined experience caring for these amazing creatures and is using this expertise, combined with industry-wide data-driven research, to provide them with the best homes. The excellent health that our two geriatric female elephants enjoy can be directly attributed to the excellent care that they receive. One of them even participates in regular “yoga” sessions to keep her limber.
The current elephant yard was expanded in 2019 to give the elephants more space, more enrichment opportunities, and day and night outdoor access. The facility is equipped with elephant welfare monitoring systems to ensure that the elephants have a diverse and engaging 24-hr experience that includes regular opportunities to engage in natural behaviors and exert choice and control over their environment. On a typical day, the elephants have access to the big yard and can choose to stay in or go out. The outside area includes a pool, multiple activity zones strategically located to encourage full use of the space, and designated spots for keeper training sessions.
The Zoo broke ground on a new elephant facility last summer and is on track to open Elephant Trek in 2024. The new habitat will be nearly five times the size of the current elephant yards and will include 4 acres of grass and sandy terrain, with trees, plants, rocks, and water features that mimic the Asian elephant’s native habitat. At the center will be a 22,000 square foot Elephant Barn – featuring a 10,000 square foot communal room with high ceilings where the elephants can congregate, socialize, exercise, and create strong family ties.
In suburban and urban communities, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are often the only way that children can connect with wildlife and nature firsthand. The only place they’ll ever see an elephant is likely at your facility, where they can also learn how they can take action to help species in other parts of the world.