Zoo’s Elephant Exhibit Expansion Still Won’t Meet Animals’ Needs

PETA Calls On County Commissioners to Nix Multimillion-Dollar Proposal

For Immediate Release:
September 15, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Wichita, Kansas

On Wednesday, the Sedgwick County Commissioners will vote on whether to approve the Sedgwick County Zoo’s bid of millions of dollars of taxpayer money for a woefully inadequate expansion of its elephant exhibit and to start an elephant-breeding program—and PETA, whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment,” is calling on the commissioners to reject the plan.

As PETA notes in a letter sent this afternoon to the commissioners, zoos across the country are closing down their elephant exhibits in recognition that elephants’ needs—such as walking dozens of miles every day for their joint health—cannot be met in zoo exhibits. In addition, studies show that breeding and exhibiting captive elephants fails to contribute in a meaningful way to conservation.

“The proposed five-acre elephant exhibit wouldn’t offer anywhere near the 30 miles that elephants in nature often walk every day,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is calling on county commissioners to do what’s best for these elephants—and that means closing the Sedgwick County Zoo’s elephant exhibit and finding them a proper home at an accredited sanctuary that meets their needs.”

For more information, please visit PETA.org.


PETA’s letter to the Sedgwick County Commissioners follows.


September 15, 2014


The Honorable Sedgwick County Commissioners


Dear Messrs. Unruh, Norton, Peterjohn, Ranzau, and Skelton:

I am writing to you on behalf of PETA and its more than 3 million members and supporters to urge you to prioritize the welfare of Stephanie and Cinda and to use your unique position of influence to stop Sedgwick County Zoo from expanding its elephant exhibit and sentencing more elephants to a lifetime of captivity.

Just last month, an elephant at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle died mysteriously, which raised eyebrows and sparked discussions across the country about the proper homes for elephants. With other zoos closing down their elephant displays in recognition of the impossibility of meeting these animals’ complex needs in a zoo environment, it seems wildly misguided to expand Sedgwick County Zoo’s population of captive elephants as well as a poor allocation of money that could surely be better spent elsewhere.

The zoo is boasting that the millions of dollars spent would increase the exhibit to a mere five acres and allow it to build a barn that could hold nine elephants. This is an entirely insufficient amount of space for animals who, in the wild, walk up to 30 miles every day and are not suited for confinement. The focus should be on finding a proper home for Stephanie and Cinda, such as sending them to an accredited sanctuary and closing the elephant exhibit, not breeding more elephants into a life of captivity. Study after study, including by the zoo industry itself, has shown that zoo exhibits such as this one do not meaningfully contribute to conservation.

Stephanie and Cinda’s well-being, along with the well-being of all elephants in captivity, is something that PETA takes very seriously. Progressive zoos across the county are making the compassionate decision to close their elephant exhibits rather than expanding them and intentionally breeding babies into a life of imprisonment for the sake of marketing. I hope that you will put the well-being of these elephants first when you vote. Please contact me for further discussion or if we can offer any help. Thank you for your careful consideration of this important issue.


Delcianna Winders, Esq.
Deputy General Counsel
Captive Animal Law Enforcement

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