The zoo in Mendoza, Argentina, has had a terrible reputation with animal lovers for a long time. It is notably, and sadly, famous for being home to the polar bear, Arturo, who died in July of 2016 after unmeasurable sufferance related to his captivity.Things seem on the point of changing. The new director, who took over in December 2016, made a historic decision to transfer the zoo's four elephants to a wildlife park, Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, opened in October of last year.The three Asian elephants, Pocha, Tamy et Guillermina, and the African elephant, Kenia, will finally leave behind their life in captivity to take a well-earned retirement, far from the crowds.Scott Blais, director of Global Sanctuary for Elephants (GSE), the association who organized the agreement between the zoo and the sanctuary, explained to The Dodo:
The fact that the Mendoza Zoo is taking the initiative to move all four of their elephants is a selfless act that is inspiring and deserves enormous accolades. We know that elephants are highly complex emotionally, socially and psychologically... Fortunately, the Mendoza Zoo has realized the negative impact captivity has on these sentient beings and they have made the clear choice to provide them with a brighter future.
Scott hopes that the zoo's initiative will have a domino effect on other establishments to do the same. Others before them have made a step towards acknowledging the effects captivity has on animals. In 2005, for example the Detroit Zoo decided to transfer all of their elephants to the sanctuary, Performing Animal Welfare Society, in California.Scott continued:
This move will also help to open the eyes of the general public that even with the purest of intentions, zoos simply cannot provide certain species with a life that meets even their most basic needs.
Captivity has catastrophic effects on animals, constrained by their natural instincts. While more and more zoos are making obvious efforts to improve living conditions for their animals, many of them still develop stereotypical behavior resulting from boredom or depression.The decision of the Mendoza Zoo is one to congratulate, because it shows that the establishment recognizes the dangers of animal captivity - and especially for animals as complex as elephants. We can only hope that other zoos will rapidly follow this example.
H/t: The Dodo