Elephants in Zoos

Juliette West, Los Angeles Zoo protest, Elephant Awareness Day 8/3/11

Elephants Suffer In Zoos

While zoos can educational role in helping people learn about elephants, Juliette feels the price paid by elephants is too high. Elephants suffer a lifetime of captivity and misery in exchange for a few moments of passing wonder by humans.

Of course, not all zoos are equal and the Association of Zoos & Aquariums helps to sets standards for elephants in zoos. The Oakland Zoo works hard to provide a good environment for its elephants and supports organizations that help to protect elephants in the wild.

Nonetheless, on the scales of right and wrong, Juliette feels it is wrong to put a wild animal into captivity for life and to deprive it of the physical, mental, emotional and social benefits it would enjoy in its own natural habitat. When she speaks publicly, she tells people that the easiest thing they can do is not go to zoos or circuses that involve keeping wild elephants captive. Kids, educate your parents about why you don’t want to go to the zoo!

Instead, we all need to come up with new, better, more creative, and more humane ways to learn about and enjoy elephants. Ways that don’t involve a lifetime of suffering on the part of the elephants. Can you be part of the solution? How could we learn about elephants without harming them in the process?



The Elephant in the Room
The Fifth Estate | Season 38, Episode 9 | Nov 9, 2012 | 45:14 mins.
Bob McKeown reports on the controversy over what to do with older elephants when they are ready to retire. Learn about Lucy at the Edmonton Zoo, which is ranked as the #1 worst zoo in the Top Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants by IDA.

Actions You Can Take

  • Research the zoos in your area to find out if they have elephants, and if so, what are the living conditions.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper encouraging people to understand the 24/365/lifetime experience of elephants at zoos
  • Write a blog post about elephants in zoos.
  • Spread awareness through social media, especially Facebook.
  • Organize a protest, rally, or other educational event.

Visit Elephants Outside of Zoos

There are great ways you can see elephants who don’t live in zoos.


Some elephants die in captivity, never knowing freedom again. Lucky elephants get rescued and get to live out their remaining days at sanctuaries. Not all elephant sanctuaries allow visitors, but some do. Here are few you can visit:


The best way of all to see elephants is to get a sneak peek of them living in the wild in their own natural habitat.

  • If you know of good, responsible, eco-tourism outfits that provide trips to see elephants in the wild, please let us know and we will list them in this section. Otherwise, we will be researching and adding to this section over time.



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