Wolf Song of Alaska News

Maggie, the Elephant at the Alaska Zoo

Letters / Anchorage Press / May 12, 2006

Send Maggie to Tennessee

Maggie the elephant at the Anchorage Zoo should be sent to the elephant sanctuary in Tennessee where the climate is more suitable and she would have a group of animals to be with. She needs a social group in order to be happy and more room to move around. It is selfish and cruel to keep her in such an inappropriate space if there are other options available.

I know it may seem like a person from Georgia shouldn't really have an opinion about what happens to Maggie, but I do spend my summers in an RV in Alaska every year and would be very happy to find on my next visit to Anchorage that Maggie had been moved to a more appropriate space in Tennessee.

I have followed the progression of the sanctuary in Tennessee over the years and have found the owners to be very dedicated to the elephants and capable of providing a healing, happy, and safe environment for Maggie. The residents of Anchorage could be very proud to send her there.

Alicia Smith / Villa Rica, Georgia

A Treadmill is a Step Too Far

To keep an elephant on her own is one of the most heartless things a human can do to an elephant. The unsuitable climate of the Alaska Zoo requires Maggie to be confined indoors to a barren concrete room for the majority of the year with nothing to do and nowhere to go. Maggie desperately needs to be transferred to either The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee or the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in California, where she would have her choice of companions and ample room to roam in a much more suitable climate.

Elephants are among the most intelligent animals on the planet, with highly developed cognition and social relationships. Of course, they want to walk and explore as far as they can. In the wild, elephants typically travel up to 30 miles a day. Putting the world's largest land mammal on a treadmill will not substitute this need by any stretch of the imagination. In this case, imagination went rather "overboard."

It's in the Zoo's self-serving interest to keep Maggie caged, but it's certainly not in the best interest of Maggie. Maggie desperately needs room to roam in a natural habitat where she can graze on vegetation, a warmer climate, and companionship of her own species. She can get all this at The Elephant Sanctuary.

Tony Madsen / South Elgin, Illinois

Stop Messing with the Elephant

Maggie is the only elephant in Alaska, living a solitary existence at the Alaska Zoo where she endures cramped conditions and a sub-arctic climate. Elephants are very social animals who form complex relationships with other elephants. In fact, interaction with members of their own species is absolutely essential to elephants' health and well being. Tragically, Maggie is completely denied the company of other elephants.

On top of the sheer loneliness of her situation, Maggie must also contend with the harsh and impoverished conditions of the Alaska Zoo, which are a far cry from the wilds of Africa where she was born. While the Zoo touts Maggie as a major attraction in the summertime, she is essentially warehoused during the harsh Alaskan winters.

African elephants evolved over millions of years in a warm climate, and are in danger of freezing to death in temperatures below 40 degrees. Therefore, Maggie is locked inside a barn for five months out of every year, deprived of sunshine and fresh air.

Even when she is outdoors, Maggie is confined to a tiny pen that she paces back and forth, day in and day out. As the largest land mammal, elephants are genetically designed to move almost constantly, and can travel as much as 50 miles in a single day.

At the Alaska Zoo, Maggie is forced to stand on concrete and hard, impacted surfaces. Over time, this inevitably causes severe foot and joint disorders that all too often prove fatal to captive elephants.

Now Alaska Zoo officials have a bizarre solution to the inherent space constrictions of their facility: they've built Maggie a giant treadmill. Rather than offer hope, this pathetic scheme only highlights the Alaska Zoo's utter failure and inability to provide for Maggie's most basic physical and social needs.

Let's do the right thing and send Maggie to an elephant sanctuary.

Mark A. Weber / Uxbridge, Ontario

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