This morning's Post-Dispatch
has a rather alarming story
buried back on page D3. Another of the Saint Louis Zoo
's elephants has been diagnosed with a potentially deadly strain of herpes.
According to the daily, the two-year-old Asian elephant Maliha is currently showing no symptoms of the virus that kills 20 percent of pachyderms born in North American zoos. The same cannot be said for Maliha's half-sister, Jade. Last week the 23-month-old elephant was diagnosed with herpes after appearing lethargic and sick. The animal has since undergone a blood transfusion.
Other elephants in the zoo have befallen worse tragedies in recent
years. The herd's matriach, Clara, died in 2007 from debilitating
arthritis -- a condition common to elephant's kept in captivity.
Meanwhile, the elephant Sri has been living with a dead calf stuck
inside its uterus since 2005.
Unlike other animals, elephants
just don't do well in zoos. They're too big for the acre or two of
space afforded them. In the wild, these animals are accustomed to
roaming as much as 30 miles a day.
Animal-rights groups have
campaigned in recent years to alert the public to the plight of these
elephants and urge zoos to release the animals to sanctuaries. The St.
Louis Zoo -- so far -- has turned a deaf ear to these growing concerns.
(Just last year In Defense of Animals
named the Saint Louis Zoo in its all-time list of Worst Zoos for Elephants
now then it's time that we -- the residents of St. Louis -- also make
our concerns known. The St. Louis Zoo is a tax-supported institution
that ultimately must answer to its constituents.
out there really think any less of the zoo if it did away with its
elephant exhibit? I doubt it. Imagine, though, the good publicity the
organization could earn if it became one of the first zoos in the
nation to do what's right: Send its elephants to greener pastures.