Happy the Elephant: Comment by Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President of Zoos and Aquarium and Director of the Bronx Zoo
“In Defense of Animals issued a news release today about elephants in zoos. There are many inaccuracies concerning Happy, an elephant at the Bronx Zoo, which have been repeated by various sources who have no direct knowledge about our elephants or our program.
“Contrary to what they state:
Happy does not live a ‘horrific life’ and is not isolated or in solitary confinement.
Happy has equal access to outdoor areas, as do our other elephants.
Happy is not ‘abandoned’ and does not live in an ‘outdated exhibit.’ Our program and facility exceed the Association of Zoos and Aquariums elephant care standards and we are accredited by that professional association.
“While Happy does not share the same physical space with our two other elephants because they do not get along, she is in tactile and auditory contact with them. Happy also spends several hours a day interacting with the people who care for her.
“Happy is healthy and comfortable in the home she has known for nearly four decades. Our animal care professionals say she exhibits no signs of physiological or psychological stress with virtually no stereotypical behavior.We don't think moving Happy from familiar surroundings and the people to whom she is bonded is in her best interest.
“We are invested in providing the best care for our elephants in the zoo and equally concerned with protecting the species in the wild. WCS spends over $24 million annually on elephant conservation. By founding the 96Elephants campaign — named after the number of elephants killed by poachers every single day in Africa — we have led the charge to help stop the ruthless slaughter of 35,000 African elephants each year for the ivory trade.”