Response to Online Petition

Many supporters and followers of the Buttonwood Park Zoo are aware that a few animal activists have been attacking us in recent years regarding our elephant care program.  Recently, one of them began an online petition which has been gaining some traction.  This petition inaccurately claims that the Zoo is “neglecting” its elephants and that we have received “numerous citations for violating the separation provision of the Animal Welfare Act.”  It also incorrectly claims that Emily and Ruth, the Zoo’s elephants, are incompatible and that Emily regularly attacks Ruth.

Our Zoo has NEVER received a citation for “violating the separation provision of the Animal Welfare Act.”  Moreover, the Zoo’s elephants are compatible and thrive in each other’s company. In fact, Emily at age 53 and Ruth who is 59 have exceeded the average female Asian elephant life expectancy. On any given day, we observe positive interactions that demonstrate that these elephants are bonded to each other and their human caregivers.   Click here to read the full story of Ruth and Emily.

Nevertheless, in response to our critics and as a means to ensure our own belief that we are providing the best possible care for our elephants, we have brought in dozens of experts to review our program.  We recently engaged an independent outside panel consisting of nationally recognized experts: a veterinary behaviorist, an expert in elephant management, and a clinical vet who is recognized as one of leading elephant veterinarians in the world.  This panel gave the Zoo a favorable review and observed “no agonistic or aggressive behaviors between Ruth and Emily.”  The panel also concluded that “based on the long-established bond between the elephants and their caretakers, transfer of one or both elephants at this stage of their lives would expose the elephants to unjustifiable and undue stress. Likewise, with the strength of the affiliative bond evident between Emily and Ruth, transferring one or both to separate facilities would be ill-advised.”  See the full expert report here:  Independent Panel Review of our Elephant Program

The Buttonwood Park Zoo is a rightfully proud institution focused on developing conservation programs for threatened and endangered species, creating quality environmental education programs for the community, and connecting children to nature.  We also pride ourselves in providing our animals, including our beloved Emily and Ruth, with the highest quality of care.  The Zoo is visited by approximately 150,000 guests per year and that number continues to grow.  Zoo guests, and the SouthCoast community as a whole, would never tolerate the type of neglect inaccurately alleged in the recent petition.  We are asking our Zoo friends and followers to help let the world know of the quality care and love shown towards our elephants. Thank you for supporting your Buttonwood Park Zoo.