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UPDATE: Urge Natural Bridge Zoo to Retire Sole Elephant to Sanctuary!

elephant rides

The Natural Bridge Zoo (NBZ) in Virginia has held the elephant Asha under deplorable conditions for decades and denied her the companionship of other elephants, which is devastating for such a highly social animal. Join PETA in urging NBZ proprietors Karl and Debbie Mogensen to prioritize Asha's well-being by retiring her to an accredited sanctuary.

The conditions at NBZ are wildly inadequate for Asha. In the off-season, she is exposed to frigid temperatures, snow, and ice and routinely confined to a barn that has damp concrete flooring. In the summer months, she is forced to give rides for hours in the sweltering heat and humidity while at the mercy of her handler. In 2013, a Virginia state trooper reported witnessing a handler at NBZ jab a bullhook into Asha's mouth eight times while yelling obscenities at her. Bullhooks are sharp weapons resembling fireplace pokers that are used to beat elephants and force them to perform.

Video footage from January 2015 shows Asha standing alone in a snow-covered paddock as she rocks back and forth, displaying what Mogensen admitted was stereotypic behavior—an indication of her profound deprivation. Nearly a decade ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that "Asha spends a great deal of time indoors during the winter on a concrete floor in a very damp barn"—conditions that are harmful to her welfare and can lead to debilitating arthritis and deadly foot problems—yet the facility has apparently made no meaningful changes to ensure her welfare. NBZ is currently under investigation by the USDA. It has already had its license suspended twice and has been ordered to pay more than $22,000 in penalties over the years.

Asha has endured a life of loneliness and deprivation at NBZ. Please speak up for her today and help ensure that she spends the remainder of her days at an accredited sanctuary, where she will have the space, companionship, and care that she deserves.

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