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Lucy the Elephant

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Photo: 'Give a Hand', by gilad, used with generous permission of Gilad Benari.


An elephant living alone in Edmonton Zoo.

A Solitary Elephant needs your help!

Please send an email to help Lucy, an Asian elephant living alone at the Valley Zoo in Edmonton, Alberta. Lucy lives without the companionship of other elephants, has rheumatoid arthritis and respiratory problems. Living in the cold climate of northern Alberta is completely unnatural for an elephant. Lucy has an opportunity to live at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee – but only if the Valley Zoo and the City of Edmonton releases her.

The highly respected elephant sanctuary is willing to take Lucy where she could join other Asian elephants on a large property where she would never again be subject to the stress of public exhibition or cold winters. Lucy would roam freely with a herd over several acres of land in a warm climate – just what nature intended for her. At The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, Lucy would live as natural a life as is possible for her after her long life in captivity.

The Valley Zoo, a municipally owned facility, states that Lucy is too sick to transport to a sanctuary. But, Maggie, another elephant with health problems was successfully moved to the PAWS Sanctuary in California all the way from Alaska . Maggie is doing well in her new home among others of her own kind. You can read about Maggie at www.friendsofmaggie.net.

If you visit the website for the Valley Zoo that owns Lucy you will see that they talk about her ‘Enrichment’ programs including painting pictures and learning to play a musical instrument. But, these are unnatural behaviors that do more to entertain human visitors than to provide enrichment to Lucy. Read more about Lucy:  www.valleyzoo.ca/pages/ValleyZoo/Resource.aspx?id=261.

The Valley Zoo states that Lucy is more bonded to humans than to other elephants – however Lucy has only had sustained elephant contact with Samantha, an African elephant who no longer lives at this zoo. As Lucy is an Asian elephant and Samantha is an African elephant, Lucy has not had a real opportunity to bond with a herd of her own species living in a natural setting. She would find that opportunity at the sanctuary in Tennessee. African and Asian elephants are not generally mixed together in sanctuary herds.

Lucy deserves a happy retirement just like Maggie, the elephant that was released from the zoo in Alaska. If Lucy is not released to go to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, then she will live the rest of her days in the cold Edmonton climate, in a space that is too small, with only humans for companionship.

Lucy’s human keepers say that they love her very much. This is not in dispute and we trust that they make every effort to sustain and care for Lucy in this very unnatural environment.Much of the year Lucy spends her time in a barn, rather than enjoying the hot sun as she walks and forages over several acres each day, as she would in Tennessee. Lucy might indeed be painting pictures, playing musical instruments or playing hide-and-seek with her keepers – as we are told she does at the Valley Zoo website - but the truth remains that these are unnatural activities for an elephant. Walking with a herd of fellow elephants over several kilometers each day in a warm climate is natural for an elephant.

Lucy has already served the City of Edmonton and the Valley Zoo. Lucy helped the zoo earn money, and provided entertainment to visitors. This has taken up all of Lucy’s life since her capture from the wild. Like all good workers she should be able to retire now. Lucy has paid for her keep with her entire existence.

It is not enough to say that Lucy is too sick to be transported to a more natural environment. Lucy’s health problems are one of the reasons why she should live in a climate and manner more natural for her. Lucy could be assessed by the sanctuary staff before transport. These sanctuary workers have extensive experience with elephants and the process of transporting them. It seems reasonable that they would be most qualified to assess Lucy’s ability to travel.

As the Valley Zoo management has Lucy’s best interests at heart, we urge them to begin open consultations with the Sanctuary staff to share the discussion about what is best for Lucy.

  • When physicians treat us humans it is common to consult with a specialist physician.
  • Lucy deserves to have this kind of specialized consultation also.

Please visit www.zoocheck.com to learn more about Lucy and send an email for her.

A suggested template:

        “Dear Mayor and Councilors of  Edmonton:

        Like all good city employees, Lucy the elephant deserves to retire.

        We know that the people of  Edmonton are generous and kind, and will not force this elephant to live out her last days in our cold country. 

        Just as the people of  Alaska made the honorable choice to let their zoo’s elephant, Maggie, enjoy a comfortable retirement, we believe that the citizens of Edmonton will also choose the unselfish act of releasing this lone elephant to live among her own species for whatever time is left of her life.

        Please send Lucy to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.

        Yours truly,”

Email the Mayor and Councilors of Edmonton, Alberta at

Email the Editor at Edmonton’s major newspapers:

The Edmonton Sun: mailbag@edmsun.com.

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