Last week a young elephant at a zoo in Washington, DC had to be euthanized because of untreatable arthritis. Our own Annabelle died a premature and miserable death from blood poisoning that progressed from foot rot, a common affliction for elephants, with their extremely sensitive feet, who have to stand on a cement floor. Maggie is headed in the same direction unless people intervene for her. Maggie is only 23. Elephants can live to be 60 and beyond.
Why is it obvious to everyone who knows or cares about elephants that Maggie needs and deserves to be set free as soon as possible - except for those responsible for her welfare, namely the owners of the Alaska Zoo and the board members who side with them? Because of their attitude, Maggie is left with a deplorable life.
Maggie has lived alone since 1997, and neither her physical nor emotional needs are being met. She is the only lone captive elephant left in the US and Canada. Because of heightened awareness of an elephant's needs, elephants living in undesirable circumstances have been sent to larger zoos or sanctuaries. Four outstanding facilities are interested in having Maggie join their elephants in a warm climate. They would handle the move entirely.
The Alaska Zoo staff is wonderful and they are helping Maggie make the most of a bad situation with games and toys and treats - but 16 hours out of 24 she is alone in a cement and steel cell with no windows and no feeling of space. Why does this have to continue?
Diane Raynor / Anchorage