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Trading two elephants for a polar bear cub

Last week the Detroit Zoo sent Winky and Wanda, their last two elephants, off to a reserve for retired elephants in California. It was controversial enough that it made some national news services. The controversy is mostly that people like to see elephants, and now we won't, but the elephants should be happier and healthier in a warmer, bigger environment. They're going from a one-acre enclosure to 45 acres.

Meanwhile, a baby polar bear is romping through the Arctic Ring of Life exhibit. It's the first polar bear cub in 15 years at the zoo, and she makes her public debut this week. Check out the picture at http://www.detroitzoo.org -- it just spikes the "Awwwwww..." meter. There are also some pictures and text about Winky and Wanda's farewell.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
animist
Apr. 14th, 2005 02:19 pm (UTC)
The controversy about elephants in zoos goes beyond Detroit. here are some articles that may interest you:

http://www.aza.org/Newsroom/PR_wandawinkymove/

http://www.aza.org/AboutAZA/ElephantCaring/

The standards for care of elephants have changed in the past few years, and there are reasons why this is. We do have to be concerened for the comfort and happiness of the animals in captivity. While AZA has no authority to force zoos to act, it can kick out zoos that do not comply with evolving standards of animals care.
songdogmi
Apr. 14th, 2005 03:15 pm (UTC)
Yes, zoo professionals have realized that elephants need a lot more than zoos used to give them. Oddly enough it's a lot like what humans need - room to move around to prevent arthritis, lots of mental stimulation, stuff like that. Detroit could've done that, I suppose; after all, they did it for the polar bears. But that's an expensive proposition and they're already supporting not only the Arctic Ring of Life but the Chimps of Harambee exhibit.

There's also the issue of climate here. Elephants don't ordinarily live at latitude 43.28 degrees north, of course; it's cold and damp here a lot. To cope with that, Wanda and Winky had to stay indoors a lot in the winter, which must have been real boring for them.

So, as far as what Winky and Wanda need, it was pretty cut and dried. There are some disappointed zoo patrons, of course. We've had elephants at the zoo for decades, and they have been very popular. But this is best for the elephants, and it did help the zoo keep its accreditation after all (although I don't know if the elephant situation was threatening that; I haven't checked that far into it).
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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