In a shocking move, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) reportedly approved a request by the San Antonio Zoo to keep a 53-year-old female Asian elephant named Lucky in isolation. Lucky is now the only solitary female elephant in an AZA-accredited zoo in the U.S. The zoo’s director told the media that Lucky will remain at the zoo until she dies. The zoo’s other elephant, Queenie, died in March.
No elephant should ever be held in solitary confinement. Female elephants are profoundly social – they live in matriarchal, multi-generational herds in the wild that include sisters, aunts, nieces, and nephews.
The AZA’s own guidelines require that elephants are housed in groups of three, yet the AZA is inexplicably sanctioning the San Antonio Zoo’s cruel decision to keep Lucky alone. This is the third variance the AZA has given to the zoo in a decade to house Lucky alone, despite pleas from IDA and our members to deny the unreasonable (and inhumane) requests and instead send Lucky to a facility that can meet her physical and social needs.