Target: Dr. Joel Parrott, Oakland Zoo Director
Goal: Thank the Oakland Zoo for its many efforts to improve elephant welfare
The Oakland Zoo in California is learning from the horrible tragedy that resulted in the death of a zookeeper in 1991. What was supposed to be a routine enclosure cleaning ended with a zookeeper being stomped to death by one of the zoo’s elephants. This terrible incident helped zoo officials realize the extent of mistreatment the elephants at the zoo were exposed to. In the past, Oakland Zoo’s elephants were forced to live in harsh conditions. To control the elephants, zookeepers used tools such as chains, electric shocks, and sharp pokers, also known as bull hooks. It is no wonder the elephants decided to fight back after this prolonged mistreatment.
Since then, the Oakland Zoo has moved away from its cruel past and has become a major pioneer in elephant welfare. One of the zoo’s changes includes replacing the use of bull hooks as a way to control the elephants with food treats as a form of positive reinforcement. The zoo has also expanded the elephant enclosure to give the animals more room to roam and has even given the them the choice to opt out of tasks or exams. If the elephants do not feel like participating in an exam, they can choose to walk away.
Along with the many changes at the zoo, the Oakland Zoo has also funded anti-poaching programs in Africa, fought to ban ivory sales, and helped the city of Oakland to ban the use of bull hooks. The Oakland Zoo has made many great changes to improve the welfare of elephants at the zoo and has made even greater efforts to help elephants as a species. Sign this petition and thank the Oakland Zoo for all its efforts to improve elephant welfare.
Dear Dr. Joel Parrott,
I would like to thank you for all the efforts the Oakland Zoo has made to improve elephant welfare. I understand that the zoo had a terrible tragedy that ended with a zookeeper being trampled by one of the zoo’s elephants in 1991. I admire the choices the zoo has made since then to learn from this tragic incident.
The Oakland Zoo has become a pioneer in welfare that all zoos should aspire to be. The changes the zoo has made in order to improve its elephants’ welfare are in my opinion, very successful. The elephant enclosures have been expanded, bull hooks are banned and replaced with food treats as a form of positive reinforcement in order to control the elephants, and the animals have the option to walk away from any exam or task they do not want to participate in.
I believe the zoo has learned a lot from its past mistakes and worked very hard to improve the welfare of its animals in the future. I would like to thank you again for all of the dedication and efforts you have made to change the lives of these elephants for the better.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Treehgr via Wikimedia Commons