Stress is believed to be a factor in the development of herpes because it can weaken the immune system, making an elephant susceptible to infectious diseases. Being on display in an entirely artificial environment clearly takes a toll on these keenly intelligent animals, who know they aren't where they are supposed to be.
Instead of wasting money on costly and often unsuccessful attempts to breed more elephants to keep confined in cramped and unnatural spaces, zoos would serve the species more responsibly by funding efforts toward reducing the key factors of their decline — poaching and habitat loss.
Jennifer O'Connor, Norfolk, Va.
The writer is employed by the