Friday, August 15, 2008

The Dallas Zoo & Jenny the Elephant

The Dallas Zoo is seeking to relocate its 32-year old African elephant, Jenny, to the Africam Safari Park in Puebla, Mexico. (yes, Africam)

According to the NY Times story What to Do With Traumatized Elephant Stirs Up Dallas, there has been a local -- and increasingly national -- uproar over the Dallas Zoo's choice of future home for Jenny the elephant. Jenny is considered somewhat of a "special needs" elephant, as she at one time suffered from serious depression which included anger and self-mutilation.

So, what's all the fuss about?

Since the death earlier this year of the Zoo's other elephant, Jenny has lived alone. Zoo officials hope to relocate Jenny to the newly AZA-accredited Africam Safari Park, which offers a part of a 4.9-acre shared elephant site. (Currently, one acre of the proposed space is occupied by several Asian elephants.) However, Jenny has an opportunity to live out her life at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, in a setting offering her several hundred acres within their 2,700 acre sanctuary.

You would think it would be a no-brainer for The Dallas Zoo, but it is not. The Safari Park offers significantly less roaming space than the Sanctuary (a portion of a 4.9-acre elephant site compared to 300+ acres), and less experienced staff. Additionally, the American Zoo Association (AZA) standards are voluntary amongst its members; the Safari Park accounts to no one. Also, more walking space would help in preventing arthritis, which many zoo elephants are prone to because of the small size of their enclosures.

Perhaps most importantly, the move of Jenny from a zoo to a drive-through theme park both perpetuates and highlights an organizational perspective of very street-level thinking: that animals are easily disposable, that the size of an animal's enclosure is irrelevant to quality of life.

Visit to find out more about Jenny and how you can help in her quest for a better life.

Comedienne Lily Tomlin has become active in efforts to convince Zoo officials to allow Jenny to live at the Sanctuary....or any sanctuary. Read her blog post Lily Tomlin to the Rescue of a Special Needs Elephant.

To submit an online email to the mayor of Dallas, Tom Leppert, click on this link. Or, email To reach the Mayor and City Council members, write to: Mayor/City Council, City of Dallas, 1500 Marilla Street, 5th Floor, Dallas, TX 75201-6390


  1. One cannot call that a small problem, but the solution seems easy enough; if one wants to.

    PS Thank you for the nice comment - maybe I should dedicate "my" flower to "your" elephant.

  2. Reading about Jenny is so distressing.

    I read on the Concerned Citizens site that "Jenny is an emotionally troubled elephant ... she suffers from prolonged bouts of crippling depression".

    How could they consider anything other than the best for this poor needy elephant!

    I'm behind on this story, but I do hope she is out of the Dallas Zoo and safely in the Elephant Sanctuary.

    How could they possibly think ... Mexico?

    Some years ago, the LA Zoo separated two bonded elephants. There was such an uproar over this decision, but it did no good. It was no surprise that the elephant that was shipped away went into a serious depression and was expected not to live. They brought her back to LA, but she did not recover.

    Eventually, she was sent to an elephant rescue center. I have not heard further.

    Who are these people that make such horrible decisions for these poor creatures.

    Many thanks for your cheers for my rescue horse. Each day is a gift for this boy. He's going to make it!


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