What a touching story!
Lucy the Asian elephant resides in the Edmonton Valley Zoo located in Alberta, Canada. The lonely old elephant would stand in her very much barren concrete enclosure behind a glass wall while visitors pass by. She only has one tire hanging from the ceiling as a toy and no company. The walls are painted with artificial trees – the real ones are behind electric fencing, just out of her reach.
Lucy is 43 years old and was taken from the wild back in 1977 as a calf. She was alone until the zoo brought in another African elephant named Samantha later on in 1989. Lucy and Samantha shared the same enclosure for 18 years but in 2007, the zoo sent Samantha all the way to North Carolina on a breeding loan – she never returned.
Elephants are a social species thus they do develop complex relationships with family and friends while in the company of others. Thus, a solitary life harms elephants — yet, many zoos do not care for them.
Lucy also suffers from various health issues caused by her zoo life – from a list of chronic arthritis, foot disease, obesity, stereotypy and even an undiagnosed respiratory condition. The first two illnesses she has are unfortunately, two of the biggest causes of many premature deaths of zoo elephants. LEAP has been advocating over the years to have Lucy sent to a sanctuary, but their calls were ignored by both zoo management and public officials.
Two elephant sanctuaries in the United States had previously offered to take the elephant in, but Lucy has a respiratory condition that would make traveling dangerous for her — but a change in climate conditions would help. In the warmer months, Lucy is sometimes walked around on the same asphalt paths that visitors use to walk throughout the zoo. The keeper with her always has a sharp tool called a bullhook in case Lucy strays from the path
Aiming to change Lucy’s living conditions, Holm and the other LEAP members hope for and aim to get more support locally. With enough donations funds, Lucy’s life could finally improve- in a sanctuary where she would do much better.
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