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A real sanctuary

Written by Rosa Colucci on .

Philly Zoo elephants Kallie and Bette are now reportedly living in Somerset County, at least temporarily ("Pittsburgh Zoo Hosting Two Philly Pachyderms," July 8). Since the zoos touted the move, most local media enthusiastically covered the story. Strangely missing is any coverage of the elephants in their new home.

In stark contrast, when former Philly elephant Dulary moved to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, the media were invited to cover her arrival and the "CBS Evening News" aired the story that night.

This time there are no photos, no videos, nothing but pat assurances from the same zoo officials who insist breeding them is an option despite ample scientific data supporting that a first-time pregnancy at Kallie and Bette's age of 27 is life-threatening. At some point a few staged photos of the elephants will inevitably appear -- but only when zoo officials decide it is convenient.

Many citizens erroneously believe the elephants have moved to a bucolic "sanctuary." In actuality, Kallie and Bette's new living quarters mirror their prior home: a cement barn, a small fenced-in yard, long cold winters and keepers dominating them with bullhooks. Saddest of all, Kallie and Bette could have moved to a true sanctuary -- the 2,300-acre Performing Animal Welfare Society in California -- at no charge over two years ago, where they would have hundreds of acres to roam and forage, elephant friends and no chance of breeding. It's not too late for our elephants -- the offer to provide them a forever sanctuary home remains open; zoo officials just need to do the right thing and put the elephants' welfare before the zoos' business interests.

MARIANNE BESSEY
Friends of Philly Zoo Elephants
Philadelphia

 

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