In Defense of Animals, an animals right group, has responded to City Manager Bruce Moore's defense of the Little Rock Zoo's decision to keep its one elephant, Ellen, and continue to try to find a companion for her, rather than shipping the aging animal to a sanctuary.
What do I think? I just don't know. I lean toward keeping Ellen where she's spent more than 50 years, though I'm sure I've anthropomorphized the issue. But I don't think you can write off In Defense's reasonable arguments as those of a wacky bunch of vegans. And I also don't think anyone can possibly say with certainty what Ellen prefers. If only.
UPDATE: A followup letter from IDA that corrects one point in the earlier letter, about the period one zoo took to find a companion for a solo elephant — four rather than eight years.
LETTER FROM IDA
Hello Mr. Brantley,
Thank you for running IDA's letter regarding the Little Rock Zoo's elephant program. I also appreciate your comments. I assure you that I very seriously weighed the consequences of sending Ellen to a sanctuary, especially due to her age. And I spent some time conferring with experts before sending my initial letter. I think you're right that we can't know what's in an animal's thoughts, but we can look at the history of other animals who have been sent to sanctuaries and flourished. You don't live that far from The Elephant Sanctuary — it's about 5 hours away. You should visit there sometime.
I do have to make one correction to the letter I sent to you this morning. It contained a numerical error regarding the San Antonio Zoo and the length of time it took for them to acquire a second elephant. In fact, it took the zoo more than four years (not eight). Obviously, this remains a significant amount of time for an elephant, who is a highly social animal, to be kept alone.
I'm attaching a corrected version of the letter, which I hope you can post. [Max's note: Rather than confuse the issue, I'm going to keep the original up and let this serve as the correction.] It has also been sent to the city manager, board of directors and mayor. I apologize for any inconvenience.
Elephant Campaign Director
In Defense of Animals