Let's hold our Provincial Government responsible for Lucy's Suffering
Our Provincial Government, specifically our Minister of Environment & Parks (AEP) and our Minister of Agriculture & Forestry (AF) are not enforcing their own AB Zoo Standards with regards to Lucy at the Edmonton Valley Zoo (EVZ). AEP is responsible for public safety and issuance of zoo permits. All permit holders are supposed to comply with the zoo standards. The AF is responsible for enforcement of animal care standards. They are not being complied with in Lucy’s case.
The Alberta Zoo Standards state:
1) Animals in areas where direct contact with visitors is possible must pose no danger to the public.
2) All animals must be maintained in numbers sufficient to meet their social/behavioural needs.
3) Exhibit enclosures must be of sufficient size and complexity to provide for the animal’s physical, social needs and species typical behaviours and movements.
4) Enclosures must be of sufficient size and design to allow individual animals the opportunity to withdraw from the view of visitors.
In addition to violations to the AB Zoo Standards, the Alberta Animal Protection Act (APA) is not being enforced. We believe Lucy is in distress as defined by the act.
For the purposes of the APA, an animal is in distress if it is:
(a) deprived of adequate shelter, ventilation, space, food, water or veterinary care or reasonable protection from injurious heat or cold,
(b) injured, sick, in pain or suffering, or
(c) abused and subjected to undue hardship, privation or neglect.
Lucy is suffering as follows:
-- Pain due to arthritis and chronic foot infections exacerbated by standing, walking on hard substrates as well as subjected to the cold climate Arthritis and foot disease are the primary cause of the premature death of zoo elephants
--Obesity due to her inability to exercise, elephants typically are on the move 18-20 hours per day and can roam up to 20 kms per day. Due to zoo hours and climate, Lucy is confined to her small indoor enclosure for up to 75% of her time.
-- Psychological suffering and stress due to isolation and boredom.
-- Exposure to noxious and harmful toxins while she is expected to paint for fundraising. EVZ claims that Lucy has an undiagnosed respiratory condition which they cite as the reason she cannot be moved to sanctuary.
Despite clear violations these Ministries continue to issue annual zoo permits to EVZ.
Please click to send the attached letter to Ministers and Premier Jason Kenney.
Lucy’s Edmonton Advocates’ Project (LEAP)
Let's hold our Provincial Government responsible for Lucy's Suffering
Dear Minister Horner & Minister Nixon,
I request that the Government of Alberta act to enforce the Alberta Zoo Standards and the Alberta Animal Protection Act to stop the suffering of the lone Asian elephant Lucy at the Edmonton Valley Zoo (EVZ). Further, I would ask that you facilitate an independent expert veterinary assessment of Lucy to ascertain the status of her health, and if possible support her transfer to more suitable accommodation.
I believe that Lucy is in distress, as defined by the Alberta Animal Protection Act and the Government of Alberta Standard for Zoos.
Animal Protection Act
The EVZ is in contravention of Section 2(1) which states the following.
For the purposes of this Act, an animal is in distress if it is (a) deprived of adequate shelter, ventilation, space, food, water or veterinary care or reasonable protection from injurious heat or cold, (b) injured, sick, in pain or suffering, or (c) abused or subjected to undue hardship, privation or neglect.
Prohibition against causing distress
2(1) No person shall cause or permit an animal of which the person is the owner or the person in charge to be or to continue to be in distress*.
(1.1) No person shall cause an animal to be in distress.
Alberta Regulation 203/2005,
2(3) A person who owns or controls a zoo for which a zoo permit is issued under the Wildlife Act must comply with the Government of Alberta Standards for Zoos in Alberta, prepared by the Alberta Zoos Standards Committee of Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development and Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, published September 30, 2005
Alberta Standards for Zoos
The zoo is not respecting the Alberta Standards for Zoos on several items including, but not limited to:
1) All animals must be maintained in numbers sufficient to meet their social and behavioural needs.
2) Exhibit enclosures must be of sufficient size to provide for the physical well-being of the animal.
3) All animal exhibits must be of a size and complexity sufficient to provide for the animal’s physical and social needs and species typical behaviours and movements. Exhibit enclosures must include provisions that encourage species typical movements and behaviours.
4) Enclosures must be of sufficient size and design to allow individual animals the opportunity to avoid or withdraw from the view of visitors.
5) Animals must be protected from injurious heat and cold associated with ambient outdoor conditions or any other weather conditions that are detrimental to their health.
It has been suggested from your office(s), that Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) can be relied upon to ensure that adequate standards are met for the animals. It is important to recognize that CAZA is a private industry association set up to protect their members (i.e., the zoos) and not to protect the animals contained therein. This association is not at arms length from the Edmonton Valley Zoo, in fact the director of the zoo was President of the association for several years. The Alberta Zoo Standards rely on the US Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) standards of care, and not CAZA’s and therefore if the Alberta Government is seeking an independent opinion, it would be prudent to engage the AZA for an opinion.
Please be advised that the AZA no longer allows elephants to be walked around the zoo, nor do they permit their members to enter the enclosure with elephants because they are considered to be one of the most dangerous animals. Valley Zoo’s own records also reflect the fact that elephants are classified as dangerous. Furthermore, the AZA standards require a minimum of 3 female elephants to be housed together, meanwhile Lucy has been alone for many years.
Lucy’s Undiagnosed Respiratory Condition
The assertion “that Lucy’s current breathing issue requires she stay at the Edmonton Valley Zoo, as travel could be life-threatening” is based on the opinions of 2 veterinarians who were hired by the Valley Zoo and CAZA, who is not at arms length from the zoo therefore they cannot be considered to be independent from the zoo. Furthermore, Lucy’s reported breathing condition has gone undiagnosed after many years. Given this, it is in the best interest of the animal to bring in a team of veterinarians who care for elephants, including Dr. Susan Mikota, who co-authored the most comprehensive text on elephant health entitled Biology, Medicine and Surgery of Elephants which includes significant detail about elephant breathing issues.
Dr. Philip Ensley, in his sworn expert affidavit states, “My opinion is Lucy is in chronic pain and her living in freezing temperatures is likely the cause of her respiratory symptoms” In addition, if Lucy’s breathing is of such concern why then is she forced to paint as part of a zoo fundraising initiative? According to warning labels on the paint provided to Lucy, it should not be ingested, have prolonged skin contact or inhaled. Since Lucy has been painting since the 1990’s, it’s possible this is a contributing factor to her chronic undiagnosed respiratory issues. Lucy should not be placed at further risk by forcing her to paint unnecessarily.
In closing, I would like to respectfully request that as the Ministers of Environment and Parks and Agriculture, you task your officials to provide the needed oversight to fulfill Alberta’s legislative and regulatory responsibilities:
-- Investigate animal cruelty in the case of Lucy at the Edmonton Valley Zoo and possible contraventions of the Alberta Animal Protection Act, its Regulations and the Government of Alberta Standard for Zoos in Alberta
-- Facilitate an independent expert veterinary assessment of Lucy’s health to establish the status of her health, and if warranted, support her transfer to more suitable accommodation.
cc: Premier of Alberta, Jason Kenney