Edmonton Valley Zoo comes #7 on In Defense of Animals 2019 Top 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants List
January 23, 2020
The Edmonton Valley Zoo has refused to rehome its ailing Asian elephant, Lucy, for many years. She could now be doomed to die in her freezing prison. Lucy is held in solitary confinement and is forced to endure frigid Canadian winters, where temperatures regularly range between 14F (-10C) and -31F (-35C). During winter, she is mainly confined to a small barn, except for brief exercise periods when she's walked across snow and ice to another indoor exercise area–but even then, she's under the constant threat of bullhooks.
Lucy's health has declined seriously over the years of living in Edmonton, and has recently taken a turn for the worse. She is on a cocktail of anti-inflammatories and opioids to manage her pain, and has been since 2016. These medications commonly cause serious stomach problems, which Lucy is now experiencing. These drugs have caused her to fall over in the past year... but without them, she would be unable to stand due to arthritic pain. Lucy's health is in a downward spiral, which will probably lead to her untimely death.
For years, local activists have been lobbying for Lucy to be released to a sanctuary, but the Edmonton Valley Zoo has repeatedly refused. The Zoo has claimed that Lucy is too sick to be moved, but remains apparently uninterested in improving Lucy's situation. In 2016, ZooCheck and Voice for Animals filed a lawsuit on Lucy's behalf. Unfortunately, the City of Edmonton (which owns and operates the Zoo) successfully argued that provincial animal welfare laws governing zoos are unenforceable. This shocking ruling has set a dangerous precedent that responsible agencies cannot act to protect animals, correct violations, or even confirm that zoos are in compliance before granting permits. Numerous animals, in addition to Lucy, will be harmed by the precedent.
After years of stalling her release to a sanctuary, the Edmonton Valley Zoo might finally see Lucy die in its prison. Hopefully Lucy will serve as a reminder of the suffering caused by zoos that exploit elephants for profit and ignore the pleas of advocates fighting to do what's truly in the best interest of these magnificent animals.
READ THE FULL LIST HERE!
The Edmonton Valley Zoo abuses sick and lonely Lucy
Credit: Lucy's Edmonton Advocates' Project
2. Contact the City of Edmonton to express your concern about Lucy’s well being. Calls to the city are logged. They may transfer you to the zoo. City of Edmonton phone hours 7am-7pm MST.
City of Edmonton (The zoo is owned by the city)
In the Edmonton region, phone: 311
Outside Edmonton, phone: 780-442-5311
Link to contact form: https://coewebapps.edmonton.ca/contact311/
3. Contact the Interim City Manager– Adam Laughlin. The previous City Manager Linda Cochrane has retired. She was a former Director at the Edmonton Valley Zoo.
Office of the City Manager
City of Edmonton
3rd Floor, City Hall
1 Sir Winston Churchill Square
Edmonton, AB, T5J 2R7
4. Contact our City and Provincial politicians
Click this link for their contact info: https://www.facebook.com/notes/lucys-edmonton-advocates-project-leap/contact-information-for-edmonton-and-alberta-officials-involved-with-lucy/911998355583579/
Worst Zoos List:
--'In Defense of Animals' is a highly regarded animal welfare organization that annually compiles a list of the top 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants in North America.
--For the past 9 years, The Edmonton Valley Zoo has made the list 8 out of 9 years, including holding first and second place four times and also received the dubious distinction of getting a dishonorable mention and placement in the Hall of Shame. It comes as no surprise that EVZ is on the list again for 2019
Recent Veterinary Reports:
As you all know in the Spring of 2019, LEAP reached out to newly hired Zoo Director Linsdey Galloway. Mr. Galloway was receptive to having a dialogue with us about Lucy and discussing possible options for her future. in June 2019, LEAP President Mary-Ann Holm personally met with Mr. Galloway. It was a lengthy, cordial discussion and as a result there was renewed hope that the long standing request to bring in a team of independent species experts to examine Lucy and provide an unbiased second opinion on whether Lucy could be safely relocated to sanctuary, might finally happen. Our hope was based on several commitments made during the meeting and afterwards in emails and phone calls with Mr. Galloway, including:
1) Mr. Galloway’s statement that he agreed species not appropriate for zoo captivity included elephants, primates and orcas.
2) His statement that caring for Lucy's specialized needs is a growing and significant challenge for the Edmonton Valley Zoo.
3) A written statement that he wants to ensure that the zoo obtains fresh information on Lucy’s prognosis and to seek out updated assessments in the coming months by impartial authorities about her condition. He assured us that there would be “no predetermined outcomes” and that he is looking at the new evidence with "fresh eyes”. He also committed to full zoo transparency and has committed to keeping us in the loop going forward.
During our conversations, when it was pointed out to him that previous consultants had made some recommendations that the Valley Zoo never followed up on, he agreed that this was not acceptable. Specifically mentioned were the recommendations from CAZA’s hired consultant Dr. Cracknell, who recommended that EVZ should among, other things:
Aim to reduce her weight to facilitate the osteoarthritis and respiratory support – in the region of 3,600-3,700 kg would be ideal. Lucy’s weight at this time was 3992 kgs (8782 lbs) Lucy’s weight in June of 2019 at 4112 kgs (9048 lbs)
Attempt to develop qualitative and quantifiable methods of assessing oxygenation to allow accurate assessment of respiratory compromise during rest or exercise.
LEAP pointed out that attempts to reduce Lucy’s weight continue to be unsuccessful. In fact, Lucy’s weight has increased since Cracknell’s examination. That her ability to exercise is restricted by climate and space, should be reason alone to recognize that a move to sanctuary would be beneficial to her breathing and arthritis. It should be noted this isn’t the first time EVZ has not followed their own consultant’s recommendations. The regular consulting vet Dr. James Oosterhuis also recommended Lucy have a larger enclosure and rubber matting on the floor back in 2009, but it required a formal complaint to The Edmonton Humane Society in 2011 before either of these were done. The larger enclosure was actually just the exercise tent set-up behind Lucy’s barn and still requires her to traverse through the cold weather and snow to get there. Despite this, the EVZ rejected the offer of an insulated coat for Lucy to use on her walks. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/edmonton-valley-zoo-turns-down-coat-for-aging-elephant-lucy-1.2947098
LEAP reminded Mr. Galloway that there still had been no attempts to measure Lucy’s oxygenation in any capacity despite it being a simple, readily available non-invasive test. A renowned elephant specialist Dr. Susan K. Mikota has stated regarding Lucy’s respiratory condition, that mouth breathing should not preclude her from transport, the important factor to consider is what happens to her oxygenation during times of mouth breathing. Mr. Galloway gave some reassurance that these measurements would be done during these next assessments, but they were not. Yet this is the most valuable piece of information to gauge Lucy’s respiratory status and the risks involved with transporting her.
LEAP provided a list of recommended experts to the Valley Zoo which Mr. Galloway stated was a solid list although he did not select even one of them. The three vets chosen for the recent examinations were not what they were promised to be, for example:
--Dr’s Oosterhuis and Wiedner were not fresh eyes nor were they impartial. They were certainly not independent second opinions. Both vets have examined Lucy in the past and had opined that she could not be moved safely. Both have shown a clear bias against moving elephants to sanctuaries. Dr. Oosterhuis was the only vet out of 11 who said Alaska’s elephant Maggie couldn’t be moved 13 years ago, because she wouldn’t survive the trip. She did survive and is still alive and thriving at Sanctuary. Dr. Oosterhuis became the Valley Zoo’s primary consultant after rendering his opinion about Maggie. Dr. Wiedner in her report made some erroneous negative claims about sanctuaries, inaccurate statements about the life expectancy of elephants and the death of sanctuary elephants after transport. Both Dr’s Oosterhuis and Weidner work in the zoo/circus industry and have made errors in judgement on a number of cases involving sick elephants.
--The third Vet Dr. Leguillette is an equine vet from the University of Calgary. He has no experience with elephants. Mr. Galloway stated he chose him due to “some out of the box thinking” because he was a large animal vet and out of the industry altogether. Aside from elephants and horses being large animals, they have very little in common with each other from a respiratory anatomy standpoint. Considering the goal of these exams was to assess Lucy’s breathing as it relates to potential transport, this was a bizarre choice. Lucy is noted to have an undiagnosed obstruction occluding one side her trunk (nose) causing her to mouth breathe during times of exertion. Horses do not have the ability to breathe through their mouth at anytime. Horses can live and thrive in northern climates while elephants cannot. We are astounded by the inclusion of Dr. Leguillette.
To review the veterinary reports in their entirety, click this link: https://www.edmonton.ca/attractions_events/edmonton_valley_zoo/lucy-news.aspx
To review a written statement about these assessments from Zoo Director Lindsey Galloway, you can do so here: https://www.facebook.com/download/preview/1079375689077361/
To review a more detailed summary of our review of the recent vet reports you can click this link. There is more detailed information about the recent vets on page 3 https://www.facebook.com/download/preview/188885952504064/
The Zoo claims that transporting her would be an “unkindness” and could be potentially sending her to her death. The manner in which Lucy has been kept is an unkindness and will inevitably lead to her premature death. Examples:
--Climate is not only aggravating Lucy’s painful arthritis and cold dry air detrimental to her breathing issues, but also limits her exercise significantly. Lucy spends as much as 2/3rd's of her life inside her tiny barn.
--Loneliness and solitude: Lucy exhibits the typical signs of Zoochosis (stereotypical repetitive movements due to psychological stress from boredom, loneliness and lack of species appropriate conditions).
--No place to swim to allow increased exercise indoors (weight loss), hydrotherapy to relieve painful pressure on her arthritic joints and help alleviate boredom. Most zoos will provide this minimum comfort. Arthritis is a leading cause of death in captive elephants.
--No access to trees, a mud pit or anything resembling a natural habitat.
--Inappropriate unvaried diet and no access to water at all times which will aggravate her symptoms of colic, which has been worsening in the past few years and can lead to premature death. We have noted on several visits that Lucy’s water troughs are empty and that she is given a hose for drinking by her keepers occasionally. Since she is alone for at least 12 hours a day, that severely limits her ability to hydrate as does her diet which primarily consists of hay and dried kibble. Dehydration is a contributing cause of colic. Lucy’s teeth have been in horrible condition and has caused her much pain and it prevents her from being able to chew properly to aid in digestion. This will also aggravate her colic. Dental issues are commonly seen in captive elephants who don’t get a natural diet such as branches and fresh browse to chew on to keep their teeth healthy.
‼️‼️After reviewing the recent veterinary reports, LEAP president Mary-Ann Holm spoke on the telephone with Mr. Galloway to express her disappointment with the vets chosen and the lack of analysis of Lucy’s oxygenation yet again. Mary-Ann asked if the zoo would consider allowing in a few of LEAP’s recommended vets if LEAP covered the associated costs. She assured Mr. Galloway that Lucy would not need to have more invasive testing done again e.g. Scoping of her trunk, and that LEAP’s consultants could just review the films and results already obtained. Mary-Ann again mentioned that Lucy’s respiratory compromise and the potential risk for transport could not be determined without the analysis of Lucy’s oxygenation, which could finally be assessed if he agreed to these additional examinations. Mr. Galloway’s response was an emphatic NO. Mary-Ann mentioned that his response implies a lack of confidence in the vet exams recently done and indicates a concern that they would not hold up to peer review. A long conversation ensued but, in the end, Mr. Galloway would not change his mind‼️‼️
Also, important to note:
The Edmonton Valley Zoo is currently in violation of 4 important standards listed in the Alberta Standards for Zoos and violations to the Alberta Animal Protection Act. Click link for more info:
Please feel free to message us at email@example.com if you have questions and please share any responses you get with us.
We thank you in advance for helping us help Lucy!
🐘🐘🐘‼️‼️‼️CALL TO ACTION ‼️‼️‼️🐘🐘🐘
In light of recent events (New veterinary Reports and EVZ being on IDA’s Worst Zoos for Elephants List) we are calling on our members to help us with a new Call to Action on Lucy’s behalf.
Please keep your interactions polite and professional, citing facts where necessary. We will provide you some important points you can refer to below.
1. Contact Zoo Director Lindsey Galloway to request that he allow in a few of the experts on LEAP’s recommended list. LEAP will cover the examination costs. He can be reached at:
Edmonton Valley Zoo Director - Lindsey Galloway
SAITO CENTRE, VALLEY ZOO
13315 BUENA VISTA ROAD NW
EDMONTON, AB T5R 5R1
(phone)780-442-5311 (general zoo phone number)
Supreme Court dismisses case involving ailing elephant in Edmonton zoo
December 19, 2019
The Supreme Court of Canada will not hear a case involving a 44-year-old ailing elephant, dashing the hopes of animal activists and likely confining her to the Edmonton Valley Zoo for the rest of her days. You can read it HERE!
BREAKING NEWS: New EVZ Director meets with
June 14, 2019
President and co-founder of LEAP, Mary-Ann Holm had a meeting with the new Edmonton Valley Zoo Director, Lindsey Galloway. This is the first time the zoo has opened up to LEAP and Mary-Ann writes about it:
I have positive and encouraging news to report regarding Lucy. I had a meeting with the new Valley Zoo Director Lindsey Galloway. The meeting was friendly and very cordial. We agreed that both of us only want the best for Lucy. Mr. Galloway expressed to me that there is a willingness to relocate Lucy if at all possible, but of course he has a responsibility to ensure doing so would not cause her any harm, which we both were in agreement on. He feels the current medical prognosis clearly indicates her life would be at risk. Therefore he wants to ensure that the zoo obtains fresh information on that prognosis and that it intends to seek out updated assessments in the coming months by impartial authorities about Lucy's condition. He assured me there would be no predetermined outcomes and that he is looking at the matter and new evidence with "fresh eyes”. If she is fit to move, there must be reassurance that the receiving facility would be capable of providing the extensive medical care Lucy requires. He also committed to full transparency from the zoo and has committed to keeping us in the loop going forward. He also stated that caring for Lucy's specialized needs is a growing and significant challenge for the zoo.
I was impressed, we had an open and frank conversation and have committed to work collaboratively in the future. He assured me that Lucy’s best interests will be at the forefront going forward and I take him at his word. We also agreed that Lucy’s keepers are very dedicated and love her dearly and do their very best to take care of her. Should Lucy not be able to be transported safely following the expert reports, we agreed to work to improve her conditions.
For those who may not be aware. Mr. Galloway was the former director at the Calgary Zoo. He arrived around the time their elephants were being relocated. He is also the President of the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA).
So I ask our members to be respectful of Mr. Galloway and his staff and let’s hope this will mean a better future for Lucy going forward. We will keep you all posted as things develop.
Advocates for Lucy the elephant fail to convince courts to review her confinement conditions at Edmonton Zoo
MAY 28, 2019
For years, activists have been trying to get Lucy, the lone elephant at the Edmonton Valley Zoo, relocated to warmer climes, claiming she’s unwell and lonely — but the latest legal effort by animal rights groups to force the courts to review the conditions of her confinement has failed. Read more HERE
LEAP interviewed by the Dodo!
August 10, 2018
President and co-founder of LEAP, Mary-Ann Holm, was interviewed by The Dodo for World Elephant Day to bring the focus in on Lucy and her captivity at the Edmonton Valley Zoo. This publication brought a huge influx of members onto our Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter and much needed worldwide attention to Lucy's plight! You can read it HERE!
The "LooseChange4Lucy" campaign began August 3 and is still underway with collection jars in the Edmonton area and Memphis, TN area.
"Pennies4Pachyderms" and "Change4Change" campaign efforts were started by fellow advocate Colby Steiner to give worldwide elephant supporters an opportunity to raise money and awareness about oppressed elephants and to show support for a favorite elephant sanctuary. Advocates place their personal jars in homes or places of business to raise funds for "their cause."
This Lucy jar is based in Memphis and funds collected from it will be sent to LEAP to help with the all-important advertising costs associated with spreading the word about Lucy.
Dishonorable Mention - Repeat Offender
Edmonton Valley Zoo, Alberta, Canada
Between a Stone-Cold Rock and a Hard Place
10 Worst Zoos for Elephants 2017 (click here)
If there's one entry on our list that just won't go away, it's Edmonton Valley Zoo. Here, poor Lucy, an Asian elephant, lives a lonely life of solitary confinement in a bone-chilling prison in one of the coldest cities in Canada. Lucy still suffers from health problems, which most - if not all - could be ameliorated with transfer to a warm-weather elephant sanctuary.
In 2016, Zoocheck and Voice For Animals launched a legal challenge to the issuance of the Edmonton Valley Zoo's annual provincial zoo permit requiring that the zoo comply with Alberta Zoo Standards. The action was aimed at achieving compliance with regional Zoo Standards, thereby resulting in the relief of Lucy's distress, ensuring a safer environment for her, as well as for visitors to the zoo.
Sadly, lawyers representing the Province of Alberta and the City of Edmonton argued that the animal welfare section of the Zoo Standards has no effect in law and is therefore unenforceable. And the presiding judge said that Alberta's Ministries of Agriculture and Forestry, and Environment and Parks, are not responsible for ensuring that the zoo is in compliance with the standards before issuing the annual zoo permit. Zoocheck and Voice for Animals are currently appealing that decision. In the meantime, Lucy's fate hangs in the balance while there appears to be no accountability for her welfare. Will someone in charge please stand up?!
BREAKING NEWS on court case for Lucy
MAY 4, 2017 via ZOOCHECK
After several months of delays, we now have a date for the judicial review of the decision to give the Valley Zoo a permit because they continue to violate the Alberta Zoo Standards in regards to Lucy. December 8th 2017 we will finally get before a judge on the issue.
Lucy struggles to not slip on the snow December 2016
Photo Credit: Mary-Ann Holm
The DODO IMPACT posts new video of Lucy
MARCH 26, 2017 LEAP
The Dodo and the Dodo Impact have run a few stories about Lucy over the years. This one struck a lot of our followers nerves as we certainly heard from you about it! It's important to be accurate though, so please note, the image of Lucy 'swaying' is not Lucy (I believe it is actually Chai before she was moved from Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle). While Lucy has been filmed showing signs of zoochosis, this particular image is NOT her.
View video by clicking here.
We are not surprised.
Read the list here:
Our civic politicians continue to have no regard for Lucy’s suffering and do nothing to change or improve her situation.
Here’s what they had to say about Lucy’s conditions:
“Lucy is a 41-year old Asian elephant who has spent the last 39 years living in one of the coldest cities in Canada. She is the most northern elephant in the world, and she has the arthritis, dental disease, and respiratory problems to prove it.
The Edmonton Valley Zoo continues to be non-compliant with Alberta’s Zoo Standards, yet the zoo’s permit was reissued this year by the Alberta government.
One of the many standards established by the Province requires that animals, “must be maintained in numbers sufficient to meet their social and behavioral needs,” yet Lucy remains alone with no elephant companions, in a barren, antiquated, and inadequate exhibit. Science has unequivocally demonstrated the devastating impacts from lack of same species companionship for such a highly intelligent and social animal. However, Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums continues to grant the Zoo a variance that allows it to keep a solitary elephant, and the government is failing to enforce standards that should be protecting her welfare.
Lucy remains, literally, between a rock and a cold, hard place. Winter temperatures in Edmonton are regularly sub zero, and this year dropped to -4 degrees Fahrenheit. Canada is no place for an elephant evolved for a tropical climate.
Lucy’s most essential needs as an elephant continue to be brazenly disregarded by her captors who insist on keeping her in their frozen prison as their main “attraction.” Traveling to and from her lonely barn, for short walks on frozen winter ground with her bullhook-toting zookeeper, Lucy lives a tragic existence for an elephant evolved to live in multi-generational herds and tropical weather.
This is the seventh consecutive year that Edmonton Valley Zoo has been featured on our list, and seven times too many for such egregious violations of elephant welfare.”