Re "L.A. Zoo is still undecided on elephant's future," Nov. 22
Why is it that L.A. Zoo Director John Lewis says he wants what's best for Ruby the elephant but keeps her in solitary confinement in a small, inadequate space at the zoo where no one ever sees her? She doesn't even have the company of other elephants, which is vital for her emotional well-being. What's best for this 45-year-old gal is to be able to roam freely on acres of soft, rolling hills at the Performing Animal Welfare Society sanctuary in Northern California. Not only would she flourish in her new, expansive digs, living among other elephants, she would be given state-of-the-art veterinary care and the love of the expertly trained staff.
Elephants suffer greatly in zoos. They suffer foot and joint problems from standing on hard surfaces for long periods of time and psychological problems because they are confined to small spaces. Elephants should be sent to sanctuaries where they would be free from the suffering they endure in zoos, and that includes Ruby.
This animal has spent a lifetime as a pawn of human interests, and it's high time that in her elder years she be allowed her freedom. Lewis wants her at another zoo (even though this has been tried before and failed) because placing her in a sanctuary carries an implicit criticism of his livelihood: incarcerating animals. Sanctuaries also represent a stark philosophical contrast to the idea, espoused by animal-use industries, that animals exist to benefit humans.
Ruby is 45 years old. Isn't that old enough for retirement? She has spent more than half her life employed by the L.A. Zoo. That is longer than most of us will spend at any particular place of employment. What benefits has she accrued? Has anyone calculated what we owe her? I really hope the zoo decides to release Ruby to an elephant sanctuary. Ruby deserves to live her golden years as a free elephant would, with access to a herd she can bond with, and land she can roam for hours and hours each day. Don't we owe her that much?