Why Is Little Rock Zoo Hiding a Dead Elephant?

Published by PETA.

Less than two months ago, PETA called on the Little Rock Zoo to retire its lone elephant, Ellen, (Mary, her companion, had just died), and send her to a sanctuary where she could spend her remaining years in peace and comfort. Now it’s too late: Ellen is dead

Benoit Dupont/cc by 2.0

Rather than trying to find out what caused Ellen’s rapid decline, zoo officials shut the gates to the public and buried Ellen at an undisclosed location. PETA is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate what really happened and to order a necropsy because of the suspicious handling of Ellen’s death. Here are some questions that demand answers:

  1. It is unheard of for an entire zoo to close when an animal dies. Why did the Little Rock Zoo shut its doors?
  2. Why did the zoo rush to bury Ellen in a secret location? The zoo claims that it did so to prevent someone from stealing Ellen’s tusks, but female Asian elephants like Ellen do not have tusks.
  3. Why wasn’t a necropsy performed, as is standard protocol, especially as the cause of Ellen’s death was uncertain?  
  4. Was Ellen injured by one of the other elephants recently acquired from Ringling Bros. circus to replace Mary? The zoo’s own elephant manager expressed concerns about potential fights between Ellen and the new elephants, Zina and Jewell, and Ringling had documented that Zina has a history of aggression. 

Please join PETA in asking the USDA to investigate the circumstances surrounding Ellen’s death.

Written by Jennifer O’Connor

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind