Wolf Song of Alaska News

Making a Decision About Maggie

Many expressing concern for Alaska's only elephant

Andrea Gusty /  KTVA-TV / May 23, 2007


People all over the world are expressing concern for Alaska's only elephant, Maggie. But those right here at home who visit Maggie often, and have a personal relationship with the elephant, say something needs to be done.

On any given day, kids and tourists crowd the Alaska Zoo to take pictures and spend a few minutes with Maggie. But one woman shares a bond with the elephant that is a little stronger.

"If she's alone, I like to sit and stay with her for a while, so she knows there is a living person there that loves her," said Anchorage resident, Charlotte Phelps.

Phelps has been visiting Maggie since 1985. For the past 27 years, she has made it a point to sit with Maggie whenever she can. Phelps says she knows Maggie well, and lately, she hasn't been herself.

"To me, she just seems so sad. And I want to see her happy," said Phelps.

Some think in order to be happy, Maggie needs to leave Alaska. PETA has offered to pay all of zoo director Pat Lampi's expenses to visit an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee, in hopes that it could be Maggie's new home.

On Tuesday night the Anchorage Assembly got involved with the controversy and passed a resolution calling for zoo officials to consider moving Maggie out of Alaska, and do it quickly. Zoo officials say they are busy looking at all of Maggie's options.

"We are working here to take the best possible care of Maggie, get her back into good health. And any decision about Maggie is made by the board of directors, in a major change in zoo policy like that. They made the first decision, and they will make any future decisions," said Pat Lampi of the Alaska Zoo.

But some worry after her health scares this month, in which she was unable to lift her own weight off the ground, if the zoo board waits too long, Maggie could die.

"If she dies here at the zoo, I don't think I will be able to come back to the zoo and visit the other animals. I love the other animals, and I love the zoo, but I don't know how I will be able to bring myself back. It will be like someone ripped my heart out," said Phelps.

Everyone can agree that they don't want Maggie to die. But what they can't agree on is how she will live.

Zoo officials tell CBS 11 News that because the zoo board is made up of private citizens, they are now working out any scheduling conflicts that they may have so that they can meet before their scheduled meeting to decide if anything should, or will be done with Maggie the elephant.

If you would like to give your input, the zoo is accepting comments via e-mail.

To contact Andrea, call 907-273-3186.

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