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Super-Sized Treadmill Instead of Retirement for Ailing Elephant?

Written by PETA | November 20, 2009

PETA and ZooCheck have been campaigning to convince officials at the Edmonton Zoo, deemed Canada’s worst zoo for elephants by African elephant biologist Winnie Kiiru, to release its sole pachyderm prisoner, Lucy, to a sanctuary. We’ve reasoned with zoo officials. We’ve enlisted support from experts and celebrities. And we’ve called on caring supporters to write letters pushing for Lucy’s retirement.

Unfortunately, it took proposed litigation against the city of Edmonton for zoo officials to make a pathetic attempt to improve Lucy’s sad state and announce their “plan” to improve her life by putting her on a diet, giving her some sand to stand on—and possibly providing her with a treadmill.* We responded to this craziness with a full-page ad, which ran yesterday in the Edmonton Journal.




The zoo’s policy of locking Lucy inside during the long, bitterly cold winters means that Lucy spends most of her time in a small barn. When she is allowed outside, she’s primarily restricted to an enclosure that is less than an acre in size. It’s no surprise that Lucy exhibits signs of mental distress, and her medical records reveal that she has been suffering from arthritis as well as chronic foot and respiratory problems.

It’s time that Edmonton Zoo officials made the decent decision to help Lucy by retiring her to a sanctuary where she can enjoy warmer temperatures, acres of space to roam, and the company of other elephants. Please help by sending your polite comments to Edmonton’s mayor and city councilmembers.

Stay tuned for updates.

Written by Karin Bennett

*I think if Edmonton zoo officials were serious about enriching Lucy’s life and improving her health, they’d sign her up for some Jazzercize classes. I’m obviously joking, but building a jumbo-sized treadmill for the overweight elephant is just as ludicrous. (Am I right—or am I right?)

Commenting is closed.
  • shweta says:

    Lucy deserves to have what every elephant are born to have… they shouldnt be her privilege. Let her have what she deserves… Please!!!

  • Terry says:

    Have a heart good things come to people who do good for others including animals. What goes around comes around if not now later. Please make a difference. Let her go. Thank Terry

  • antonia says:

    Stephen Mendel please remember to to release Lucy urgently and without hesitation you woulnd’ like this on your worst enemy would you?

  • mel says:

    Krteel as someone who has a respiratory disease themselves I can easily speak as an EXPERT in your eyes that putting a creature into a breathing situation they are not accustomed to particularly smog can cause severe respiratory distress. So telling me to be reasonable is rather silly. And as far as the social issue there are stories out there of Elephants having a companion that isn’t a fellow elephant. They do well together with neither group getting hurt. I still maintain that moving this elephant will kill it and if you want that on your conscience that is your opinion.

  • lynda downie says:

    Thanks Peta for running that ad is it the one pictured here? on behalf of Lucy. Edmonton is my old stomping grounds and when I was there Mayor Mandel was then a city council man and very responsive to environmentalanimal issues. I hope he heeds Lucy’s call.

  • Sean says:

    I hope Lucy can get into a better shelter please contact Stephen Mendel to urge him to release Lucy. Carla this may amaze you but the zoo is the responsibility of the city of Edmonton and not the country.

  • Marjorie says:

    Lucy has been a faithful elephant to your zoo. Can’t you be a faithful guardian to her after all these years? Are you just going to let this highly intelligent animal die on your watch? Please let Lucy have the freedom she deserves to go to a sanctuary where she will be with many new friends eat her favorite foods and live in peace for the rest of her days. How would you like to live sick in solitary confinement for the rest of your life? What you are doing to her is cruel and inhumane. Wouldn’t you pray that somebody gave you a break? Please do the right thing and send her to Tennessee right away. Time is of the essence. Thank you.

  • krteel says:

    It doesn’t take a degree in veteranary science to know that elephants are social creatures and without a social environment they will suffer consequences. Additionally how will moving it kill it? Animals are moved routinely. Finally smog hasn’t been noted as being a problem for elephant sanctuaries let me know if you see publicity otherwise. So let’s be reasonable give the animal to a sanctuary where it will have a better environment.

  • Maddi says:

    I live in Edmonton and even as a kid have been appauled by the conditions of the valley zoo. Please get Lucy out of there! She deserves better

  • Sarah says:

    I urge Edmonton Zoo to release Lucy the elephant so she can live her retirement with dignityfreedom and peace.

  • Carla says:

    Really Canada??? REALLY? What the hell would you lose by having this poor elephant put in a better environment? Are you serious????? This is discusting and very sad for poor Lucy!

  • Marcine Stubbs says:

    Please do what you know in your heart is the right thing to do for Lucy. She has entertained people at your zoo for many years and now it is time for her to have a good life where she can be in a warm climate and in the company of other elephants the way elephants are supposed to live. Please let her be happy for the years she has remaining.

  • Mel says:

    Your expert is a specialist and not a veterinarian. And celebrities don’t know what is best for an elephant. How do you know she’s showing signs of “mental distress”? Could it be she’s just BORED? And please think if Lucy is exhibiting arthritis and particularly RESPIRATORY conditions why move her to a place that is HEAVY on SMOG and other pollutants that are known to cause RESPIRATORY DISTRESS? And yes Karin they make treadmills big and strong enough to support an elephant. They make scales for them so it’s obvious they can. Moving Lucy could kill her stress of moving animals has caused many health problems for the animal move a “companion animal” to a new home and you’ll see this but do you REALLY care about that? Seriously THINK your actions if successful will KILL Lucy not save her! Do you want THAT on your conscience?

  • grey52 says:

    they built a treadmill for the elephant in the alaska zoo too. perhaps someone might want to point out that it didnt work too well. theres currently orphaned baby bears being rehabbed in that enclosure now and its barely big enough for them although it is and they seem much happier than the elephant did. seriously though as a human living in a subarctic climate i can tell you that an african elephant does not belong here! at least i can go hiking in my thermals. whats poor lucy’s life like?

  • Brien Comerford says:

    Too make matters worse is the reality of Lucy the elephant being smarter than the cretinous human zoo officials.

  • Elvia says:

    Please release her no animals should be put through that.

  • Judy Lust says:

    I beg you to have mercy for poor Lucy the elephant. Elephants are social animals and live together in warm weather areas. Recently Maggie an elephant and the only one in an Alaskan zoo was released to PAWS in California. There is also a wonderful sanctuary in Tennessee. Please grant this intelligent lonely elephant her freedom where she can roam with other elephants who will welcome her. Thank you for your caring decision to let Lucy live in peace in a Sanctuary.