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Save the Dates
and April 1-2
2011 Summit for the Elephants Conference
Locations: Oakland Zoo and PAWS' ARK 2000Watch for details.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Zoo to investigate elephant attack
Video from elephant cage will not be released
TOLEDO, Ohio (WUPW) - Toledo Zoo officials are putting together a team to try and figure out what caused Louie, a 7-year-old 4,000-pound African elephant, to attack his trainer Thursday afternoon.
It's against the zoo's protocol for a keeper to be in the elephant cage without another keeper somewhere close by, just in case. But in Thursday's situation, that didn't happen.
Don Redfox, a 30-year veteran with the zoo, was in the cage alone, which, itself, is not unusual, but he didn't have another zookeeper nearby, zoo officials said. Ron Fricke, Toledo ZooDeputy Director, said that's not like him.
"Don, in all his years, is a stickler for protocol," Fricke said. "He's the one that helped write it. He knows it. So, we're not sure. Unfortunately the way the tape tapes, we didn't get much other than when he walked in."
Fricke said he's not sure if Redfox saw something that needed immediate attention, or made some other judgement call. Considering Redfox is still being treated at the University of Toledo Medical Center, hospital, where his family said he appears to be doing better, those questions will stay unanswered for now.
"At this point, we don't know what Don was thinking or doing because we haven't been able to speak with him," Fricke said. "We also, you know, you can't get inside of an elephant's head."
But they can try. The zoo's bringing in several elephant experts and safety specialists, calling it an inquiry team, to break down what happened. They're hoping to assemble that team and get the investigation going as soon as possible.
The team will be chaired by Marna Ramnath, former Zoo Board President and the immediate past Chair of the Zoo Programs Committee. Also serving on the committee will be Fricke, Assistant Director of Safety Andy Birr and Chief Veterinarian Dr. Chris Hanley. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has agreed to identify a representative with expertise in both elephants and safety.
In addition, the team will be advised by Alan Roocroft, an internationally recognized elephant expert who has worked with the Zoo's elephant program for over eight years. Roocroft will take time to review the details of the incident and talk with Zoo staff members.
The video from inside the cage is a big part of that inquiry. During a news conference Saturday, footage of the attack would not be released, the zoo said.
Redfox is recovering from broken ribs and a broken wrist after Louie charged at the keeper with his tusk. "The entire staff of The Toledo Zoo is united in their best wishes for Don and his family, and our thoughts and prayers are with him as he makes what we hope is a full and speedy recovery," said Dr. Anne Baker, Toledo Zoo Executive Director.
FOX Toledo News reporters Heather Miller and Sharia Davis contributed to this report.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Expert puzzled after reviewing elephant attack at Toledo Zoo
Expert says elephant's behavior at the Toledo Zoo was a fluke.
|Ban the bullhook!|
Pat Derby and Ed Stewart with 71.
FROM PAT DERBY
The recent attack by Louie, a seven-year-old African bull elephant born at Toledo Zoo and raised by the man he attacked, is the latest confirmation of the need to ban bullhooks and free contact training from elephant management.
Zoo "experts" cannot agree on why Louie chose to attack. The zoo's deputy director, Ron Fricke, stated, "Truth is, we may never know exactly why it happened." Another "expert" said Louie was "startled."
With all due respect to the "experts", one obvious solution to the problem, which has been adopted by many zoos who have suffered similar tragedies, is to switch to protected contact management.
Toledo Zoo and Don Redfox, the elephant manager who was injured by Louie, are firmly entrenched in the belief that managing elephants with bullhooks and dominance is the safest and most efficient way to handle elephants. In a 1997 article published by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Redfox says the language he uses to talk about elephants is from the circus, as are the commands and routines he uses. View that article here.
Mr. Redfox, according to reports, supervised Louie's conception, attended his birth and has cared for him all of his life. Clearly, a flaw exists in that management concept.
Ed Stewart and I raised a baby elephant. We slept with her, walked with her and provided her with other elephant companions for 23 years without the use of a bullhook.
She suffered from serious illness most of her life, and we gave her shots and fed her unpleasant medications with no hint of aggression on her part because she knew we would never hurt her. Bullhooks are meant to be punishment, and they instill fear and mistrust in baby elephants.
Sadly, Louie does have an "unusual bond" with Mr. Redfox. That is the nature of elephants. But the fear of punishment, the inevitable separation from his mother and the other unnatural policies adopted by the Elephant Managers Association (EMA) and Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) regarding captive breeding and elephant management, will soon change Louie's perception of humans.
Joyce Poole, a true elephant expert, has stated that elephants seldom make mistakes. If they attack, it is usually intentional. Bull elephants in musth are probably an exception, but, according to reports, Louie is not in musth. The use of bullhooks and dominance foments aggressive behavior which will intensify as Louie grows older.
Twiggy, the elephant confiscated by USDA and placed at Toledo Zoo, is another sad victim of EMA free contact management policy. She was confiscated from trainers in the circus who use bullhooks, and sent to retire in the same environment. She deserves better.
PAWS has lobbied USDA/APHIS and the federal government for many years regarding this issue. We urge all our supporters to voice your opinion to Toledo Zoo, AZA and the EMA over the use of bullhooks.
Email the Toledo Zoo: firstname.lastname@example.org
Voice your opinion to the Elephant Managers Association
Everything You Should
Know About Elephants
The Performing Animal Welfare Society's "Everything You Should Know About Elephants," now in its third printing, provides the reader with current reports, opinions and studies by some of the world's top scientists, animal behaviorists, veterinarians and wildlife experts on the treatment and needs of both captive and wild elephants. The information contained in these 72 pages will empower you with the facts needed to advocate for the humane care and treatment of captive elephants, and also provides you with examples of what you can do to help. Order your copy today! Click here.
|A Letter From Joyce Poole|
Thanks to concerted effort by many individuals and groups, both internationally and in Zimbabwe, we are sure many of you will have already heard the excellent news that the Zimbabwe/North Korea animal deal has been called off. The deal involved capturing a number of wild animals in Zimbabwe, including two juvenile elephants, and shipping them to a zoo in North Korea.
Our sincere thanks goes out to all of you -- organisations and individuals -- for adding your names to the weight of opposition against what would have been a disastrous deal for Zimbabwe's wildlife.
The Zimbabwean authorities have indicated to us that this deal was genuinely intended to raise urgently needed funds for habitat conservation, in particular cutting fire-breaks in Hwange National Park, where most of the animals have been captured from. Furthermore, they have told us that they do not intend to undertake another capture of this nature. However, we do not yet have this Statement of Reassurance in writing -- it is something we are trying to secure.
However, in the meantime, we were faced with the urgent need to ensure that the majority of the captured animals were immediately released back into the wild. This operation began last week (the Tikki Hywood Trust, has been coordinating the release). The giraffe and zebra have been taken to a private game farm, within Zimbabwe.
The two juvenile elephants cannot be released immediately. Instead, they are going to be integrated into a herd of other rescued elephants of all ages, at Wild Horizons Wildlife Trust -- with the intention of releasing them to the wild when they are fully integrated and ready to survive independently. This may take two years or more.
Releasing/caring for these animals obviously carries a significant cost and we are hoping you will all be able to help.
Furthermore, although the cancellation of this deal was in no way dependent upon us raising funds for the fire-breaks, we have also indicated our willingness, subject to the Statement of Reassurance mentioned above, to support National Parks on this specific issue -- as many thousands of wild animals could be affected by devastating fires in Hwange if these fire-breaks are not maintained.
Our main fundraising priority is: US$27,000
This total is made up of:
Immediate release of most of the wild-caught animals: $3,000
Two years care for the 2 young elephants: $24,000 ($6,000 per annum per elephant)
Our Second Priority for funds is subject to the Statement of Reassurance we hope very much to receive from National Parks. We would all then endeavour to raise funds towards the costs of the environmental management of Hwange which is fuel and other support for firebreaks -- an additional $25,000.
We know in these difficult economic times every penny, cent and shilling is precious. However, we would appreciate you all digging deep to support us on this as much as possible.
Anyone who wishes to donate can do so by donating to Born Free. Born Free has kindly agreed to process donations -- without taking any deductions except for bank fees, etc.
Please join PAWS in donating to this worthwhile cause.
In the United States, donate to Born Free USA: DONATE HERE
. In the comments box remember to indicate your donation is for the Zimbabwe animals.
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|Performing Animal Welfare Society
P. O. Box 849
Galt, CA 95632