After years of urging from PETA, the Alaska Zoo just announced that they will be sending Maggie, a 27-year-old African elephant, to the Performing Animal Welfare Society sanctuary in California! Maggie was captured in Zimbabwe in 1981 during a cull, and likely watched as her entire family was slaughtered. She has lived at the Alaska Zoo since 1983, and the last 10 years of captivity for this highly social animal have been solitary, after her only companion, an Asian elephant named Annabelle, died.
It’s pretty much a no-brainer that elephants, who roam up to 30 miles a day, don’t belong in zoos, and Anchorage, like most northern zoos, is far too cold for an elephant, meaning that she spends many months out of the year locked indoors.
You may remember that Maggie was in the news recently after a failed attempt by the zoo to provide her with a treadmill to give her exercise. Following this incident, and two subsequent collapses by Maggie due to failing health, attitudes from locals and the media changed, and more and more people began calling for her release to a sanctuary.
As PETA Director Debbie Leahy says,
“We applaud the Alaska Zoo for its compassionate decision to move Maggie to a warmer climate where she will be able to socialize with other elephants for the first time in 10 years. By taking action now, the zoo has ensured Maggie’s future happiness and probably saved her life.”
The zoo plans to finalize the agreement with PAWS within two weeks, and hopefully she’ll be headed to the sanctuary before winter. Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to make this happen!
PETA has donated $10,000 dollars toward Maggie’s long-term care—we hope she gets well soon.