Campaigns - San Antonio Zoo
Lucky the elephant not so lucky
As the San Antonio Zoo's lone elephant, Lucky,a female Asian born in 1960, is living an extremely lonely, cruel and unnatural life, especially for an animal as intensely social as an elephant.
Lucky has been living in solitary confinement since the death of her companion, an African elephant named Alport (left), in November 2007. Alport died at age 49, just days after being diagnosed with a serious orthopedic injury. No necropsy report to shed light on Alport's untimely death has been released by the zoo, despite a request from a consortium of animal protection groups in San Antonio.
Lucky spends her life in a tiny and extremely outdated elephant exhibit, standing on hard-packed dirt and drinking water from a dirty pool. The San Antonio Zoo is a far cry from the lush forests of Lucky’s birthplace, Thailand, where she was captured at less than one year old and brought to the U.S. She was first brought to Chicago's Brookfield Zoo, before being sent to the Steele and Tata Elephant Ranch in Texas.
In April, 1962, Lucky was shipped to the San Antonio Zoo, where she has spent more than 45 years on display in a truly wretched exhibit. In addition to her cruel isolation, she likely suffers from foot problems, as evidenced by the zoo’s frequent foot treatments. Foot problems are no surprise, as the San Antonio Zoo elephant display gives Lucky only about one-half acre of barren space on which to move.
Foot problems and arthritis, caused by inadequate zoo conditions, are the number one reason for euthanizing elephants in captivity. Another elephant at San Antonio Zoo, Ginny, was euthanized in 2004 after suffering for years from painful, infected feet and arthritis.
San Antonio Zoo puts politics above Lucky’s welfare
As if all this weren’t bad enough, the San Antonio Zoo is adding a unique twist to Lucky’s story. The Zoo is currently constructing a new attraction that will feature African animals, including elephants. As Lucky is an Asian elephant, she will have no place in this new display. Yet rather than retire Lucky to a sanctuary, the Zoo has come up with a nonsensical plan to bring in another Asian elephant and then ship out both Asian elephants when the African section is complete!
A coalition of local animal protection organizations and advocates are working tirelessly to rescue Lucky and send her to a sanctuary. After all these years, Lucky deserves a bit of luck and the chance to spend her final years roaming freely in the company of other Asian elephants.
Please help Lucky by urging the San Antonio Zoo and Mayor Julian Castro to end Lucky’s cruel and unnatural confinement and relocate her to a sanctuary without delay.
“Now is the time for the Zoo to send Lucky, the surviving elephant, to a sanctuary and close its extremely outdated and inadequate elephant exhibit. No elephant should again be subjected to the horrible, cramped and barren conditions found at San Antonio Zoo. Lucky should live out her days at one of two existing U.S. elephant sanctuaries. There she will have extensive space, natural conditions, freedom of choice, and the companionship of others of her species.
- Les Schobert,
Former General Curator of the Los Angeles and North Carolina Zoo
What you can do
Write to the Zoo and the mayor of San Antonio. Tell them it’s cruel to keep Lucky in solitary confinement and urge them to send Lucky to a sanctuary without delay.
Steve McCusker, Executive Director
San Antonio Zoological
Gardens and Aquarium
3903 N. St. Mary's
San Antonio, TX 78212-7183
Phone: (210) 734-7184,
Fax: (210) 734-7291
Mayor Julian Castro
City of San Antonio
P.O. Box 839966
San Antonio, TX 78283
Phone: (210) 207-7060 or 207-7107
Fax: (210) 207-4168