The Honourable Stephen Mandel
Mayor of Edmonton
Edmonton City Councillors
For over 30 years, Lucy has been held captive in a small zoo enclosure in frigid Edmonton, Alberta, and for more than three years, she’s been without the companionship of other elephants.
Lucy’s life at the Edmonton Valley Zoo—which was identified by elephant biologist Winnie Kiiru as the worst zoo in Canada for elephants—is a miserable contrast to what she would experience in the wild. Female elephants are highly social and suffer greatly when kept in isolation. Edmonton’s freezing winter weather and the zoo’s policy of locking Lucy indoors during the winter and when the zoo is closed means that Lucy spends the majority of her time in a small barn. When she is allowed outside, she is restricted to an enclosure that is less than an acre in size.
Lucy exhibits signs of mental distress and has health issues—including upper respiratory problems, arthritis, obesity, and chronic foot ailments—as a result of the substandard and inadequate conditions at the Edmonton Valley Zoo. These health problems are further aggravated by the region’s frigid climate.
The city of Toronto recently agreed to release the elephants at its city zoo to a sanctuary by the end of 2012 and also formally urged Edmonton to do the same with Lucy. This is a huge step forward, and it’s time for Edmonton to follow Toronto’s example!
The only way to ensure that Lucy’s suffering doesn’t continue—and that her health conditions don’t eventually kill her—is to transfer her to a sanctuary. The Performing Animal Welfare Society sanctuary in California can offer Lucy ponds for bathing, fresh vegetation and foraging opportunities, the freedom to roam over many acres of natural habitat, and the company of other elephants.
I urge you and the Edmonton City Council to do whatever is necessary to get Lucy relocated to a sanctuary and to close the zoo’s elephant exhibit permanently.