Lonely Planet Writer

Elephant enclosures on the way out in America’s zoos

Elephant in Phuket.
Elephant enclosures are being phased out at US zoos. Image by Tanel Teemusk / CC BY-SA 2.0

Since 1991 around 21 zoos in North America have closed their elephant exhibits, according to the group In Defense of Animals, and it’s a trend which looks likely to continue. Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo has recently made the decision to move Chai and Bamboo, its two resident elephants, to a zoo in Oklahoma where they will have more space and be able to join other elephants, and the Detroit Zoo have already retired their animals to a refuge. In recognition of the fact elephants are social animals used to travelling thousands of miles in a close-knit herd, national guidelines were drawn up in 2011 which require some zoos to increase the size of their herds and give the elephants expanded facilities. Zoos have until 2017 to adhere to the guidelines, and it seems many are choosing to close its facilities rather than continue keeping elephants. Read more: chicagotribune.com