Wolf Song of Alaska News

Group Protests Keeping Maggie in Alaska
Bianca Slota / KTUU-TV / May 20, 2007


Anchorage, Alaska -- There is renewed concern about the condition of Maggie, the Alaska Zoo's elephant, after two incidents last week where Maggie laid down and needed help to get back up. Today a group of Anchorage residents took that concern to the streets.

The zoo says Maggie is now out of the sling, which was holding her up, and is now wearing a harness, which allows her to walk around her pen. But for some animal rights activists that's not good enough.

Members of the group 'Free Maggie' say the elephant's recent health problems are reconfirming their belief that she is rapidly declining.

"One time, you know, and if she got up and she seemed fine, you could say, 'Well it was a just something that happened,' but twice, it just made it all the more serious," said Diane Raynor, 'Free Maggie.'

The group is asking the Alaska Zoo to move the elephant to a zoo or sanctuary in a warmer climate where she will have more room to move around and other elephants to keep her company.

"Alaska is just not a place for an elephant and even though elephants are cool, she just, she doesn't really belong here," said Carson Evans, a protestor.

The zoo says Maggie is recovering well from the incidents and that tests for blood counts and blood chemistry are normal. Veterinarians drew more blood yesterday and plan to do so again on Tuesday. They attribute last Sunday's incident to colic and say Wednesday's incident was a result of muscle fatigue from Maggie's efforts to get up on Sunday.

"Well, we're keeping her inside. She's under 24 hour watch. We're consulting our veterinarians, outside veterinarians on what exactly she needs at this time," said Eileen Floyd, Alaska Zoo spokesperson.

Floyd did not want to comment on today's protest and says the focus at the zoo right now is on Maggie's health and not on where she should live.

"I don't think anyone would ever consider transporting an animal that isn't in the best of health, so right now the focus is on getting Maggie's health back," said Floyd.

The board is expected to review Maggie's status in August, but members of 'Free Maggie' say they are concerned the board won't give a thorough review.

"It's obvious from the board of directors' position on this that they want Maggie to stay. She must be some kind of financial benefit," said Catherine Hill, protestor.

For now Maggie remains indoors and under close watch, not just from veterinarians, but by those who want the elephant to go.

The zoo says Maggie will be kept indoors until veterinarians feel she is well enough to go outside. The area of the zoo where Maggie is housed is closed to the public right now anyway because the snow leopard is expected to give birth very soon.

Contact Bianca Slota at bslota@ktuu.com

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