Written by PETA
Matthew Tosh | cc by 2.0
A female African
elephant named Umoya was found lying on the ground with severe injuries Thursday
morning at the San Diego Zoo
Safari Park. She died shortly thereafter. Umoya
was one of seven
elephants ripped from their home in Swaziland in 2003 and shipped halfway
around the world to the California zoo. PETA and other animal protection
organizations had filed a
lawsuit to try to prevent their capture
and had even offered to pay to move the elephants to another part of Africa.
Since no caretakers
were present when Umoya was injured, no one knows exactly what
happened to her, but it's likely that her injuries were sustained during
a fight with another elephant. Umoya's babies, Phakamile,
4, and Emanti, 18 months, are now orphaned, just as their mother was when she
was taken from her homeland. Umoya's family said goodbye and paid
their respects, and
her babies were the last to leave.
Elephants share intensely close bonds, and they nurture
and protect each other. While playful roughhousing is common, aggression and
fights are exceedingly rare. In a study reported in the journal Nature, behaviorists found that
elephants with traumatic experiences during their formative years—like baby
elephants who see their families slaughtered during culls, which is what
happened to Umoya and the other seven elephants the zoo took from Swaziland, or are
taken from their home and hauled thousands of miles away to a strange and
frightening environment—often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. If
one of the elephants snapped from the stress of captivity and attacked, Umoya,
of course, had no way to escape.
Every ticket purchased to a zoo helps perpetuate
this cruel cycle. It is time to close elephant exhibits, leave elephants in
Asia and Africa where they belong, and move those in zoos now, like poor,
lonely Lucy in Edmonton, to a sanctuary.
by Jennifer O'Connor
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