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Lucy the Elephant Quick Facts
Lucy the Elephant Quick Facts

About Lucy...

                                         Lucy is a female Asian elephant, born in Sri Lanka in 1975. She came from

                                         Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage/elephant breeding center. Lucy arrived at

                                         Edmonton Valley Zoo (formerly known as Storyland Valley Zoo) at the age of 2.

                                         She was alone at the zoo for her first 12 years in Edmonton.

                                         In 1989, in lieu of Lucy having a calf,

                                         Samantha, a 1 year old female African

                                         elephant, captured in Zimbabwe, was

                                         brought in for Lucy to mother. They are

                                         different species – but small zoos at the

                                         time liked to have one of each species,

                                         even though their behaviour and temp-

eraments are different and they would never meet in the wild.

In 2007, Lucy’s companion Samantha, after 18 years of bonding, was sent away on a long-term breeding loan and has never returned. Lucy has remained alone ever since. In any case, today’s zoo standards and the zoo’s own plan preclude adding another elephant. The exhibit is too small and improvement costs would be very high.

Lucy has suffered from many ailments, most brought about by zoo conditions.  Respiratory and arthritis have been the most predominant (arthritis has never been recorded in wild elephants, only captive ones in zoos).

In 2010, Zoocheck, PETA and Edmonton resident

& President of the Voice For Animals Humane

Society named Tove Reece, all joined forces to file

a lawsuit on Lucy’s behalf. Although the case was

not won, it was appealed to Alberta’s Supreme

Court where 2 of the 3 justices decided against it.

The judge in support of the appeal, Chief Justice

Catherine Fraser wrote an insightful dissent which

could be a turning point in animal welfare law in

Canada. For the first time, a Canadian judge has

treated an animal like the individual that she is,

deserving of consideration, compassion, and

protection. It was then appealed to Canada’s Supreme Court which refused to hear it.

During the early portion of 2015, a new local advocacy group, Lucy’s Edmonton Advocates’ Project (LEAP) was being formed to focus their efforts solely on Lucy and to educate citizens and politicians in an informative and friendly manner.

In late 2016, Zoocheck and Voice for Animals launched new legal action against the Alberta Government for allowing the ongoing violations to the Alberta Zoo standards. The violations include keeping Lucy alone and not in an appropriate social grouping as outlined in the AB Zoo Standards. In addition, Lucy’s enclosure size and public safety issues resulting from the Valley Zoo’s free contact management — which allows Lucy to be in close contact with zoo visitors — were also included.  As of this page being updated, a court date has still not been set.


The Asian or Asiatic elephant (Elephas maximus) is the only living

species of the genus Elephas and is distributed in Southeast Asia from

India in the west to Borneo in the east. Asian elephants are the largest

living land animals in Asia.

Since 1986, E. maximus has been listed as endangered by the Inter-

national Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as the population has

declined by at least 50 per cent over the last three generations. In 2003,

the wild population was estimated at between 41,410 and 52,345 indiv-

iduals. Female captive elephants have lived beyond 60 years when kept

in semi-natural surroundings, such as forest camps. In zoos, elephants

die at a much younger age and are declining due to a low birth and high

death rate. The pre-eminent threats to Asian elephants today are loss,

degradation and fragmentation of habitat, leading in turn to increasing

conflicts between humans and elephants. They are poached for ivory (although only the bulls produce tusks) and a variety of other products including meat and leather.

Demographic analysis of captive Asian elephants in North America indicates that the population is not self-sustaining. First year mortality is nearly 30 per cent, and fecundity is extremely low throughout the prime reproductive years. Data from North American and European regional studbooks from 1962 to 2006 were analysed for deviation of the birth and juvenile death sex ratio. Of 349 captive calves born, 142 died prematurely. They died within one month of birth, major causes being stillbirth and infanticide by either the calf's mother or by one of the exhibition mates. The sex ratio of stillbirths in Europe was found to have a tendency for excess of males.

About Asian Elephants...

Lucy and Samantha
Lucy the Elephant Lucy's Edmonton Advocates Project
Lucy the Elephant
Elephant Nature Park

Lucy (L) and Samantha (R) sharing a moment

Photo Credit: Greg Southam / Edmonton Journal file photo

Lucy was born in the tropics but forced to live in freezing temperatures

Photo credit: Mary-Ann Holm

Lucy being paraded around the zoo

shortly after arriving in Edmonton

Photo credit: Private donor

Rescued Asian elephants at a sanctuary in Thailand

Elephant Nature Park

Photo credit: Gary Fadden

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