ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A prominent animal rights group is calling out the Albuquerque Biopark, saying the zoo should send its elephants to a sanctuary. Video captured by an undercover investigator with In Defense of Animals USA, shows elephants pacing back and forth and standing still for long periods of time.
“The documents have been observed, displaying signs of stress,” said Brittany Micahelson, the Captive Animal Campaigner for In Defense of Animals USA.
Michaelson says that stress is caused by a number of problems, including their habitat. Michaelson says it’s way too small for the world’s largest land mammal, which roams over 100 miles a day in the wild.
The group says the exhibit is the equivalent of a small family living their entire life in a bathroom. “They have no business to be in zoos at all,” said Michaelson.
Story continues below:
- Community: Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project awarded $67 million from Biden-Harris Administration
- Albuquerque: Three teens arrested for carjacking rampage
- New Mexico: Unique Airbnb locations throughout New Mexico
- Crime: Portales woman takes plea deal for hitting, injuring 12-year-old boy and driving away
Not only is their exhibit too small, but Michaelson says the habitat is also too close to a busy road, Tingley Drive. The noise from the traffic is another cause of stress. Michaelson mentions the recent deaths of babies Jazmine and Thorn.
“The EEHV which is the herpes strain, is usually found in elephants that are suffering as a result of stress from zoo environments,” said Michaelson.
Back in 2014, the city released tentative plans to expand the five-acre habitat, by fifty percent. The plans also included adding a big pond for elephant enrichment. KRQE News 13 asked if the exhibit was expanded. “I’ll have to find that information, I don’t have that answer,” said Bob Lee, the Associate Director of the ABQ Biopark.
Last year, however, The city celebrated a brand new elephant overlook and event deck, giving visitors a birds-eye view of the elephant herd. This is part of their massive expansion on the Asia Exhibit, which includes the orangutans, tigers, and snow leopards. Construction is expected to total $28-million.
Michaelson says even if Biopark expands the exhibit, a zoo is not the place for such an intelligent and complex animal to live. The group is requesting that Biopark release their elephants to a sanctuary, giving them more space.
“A sanctuary is a safe home, and that’s what the Albuquerque Biopark is,” said Lee.
Phase two of the Asia Exhibit will be completed this fall. The list of ten worse habitats for elephants included the Bronx Zoo and the Los Angeles Zoo.