Liberate Lonely Elephant Held Captive at Zoo

Target: James Breheny, Director of the Bronx Zoo

Goal: Release Happy the Elephant from captivity and send her to a sanctuary.

A 44-year-old Asian elephant named Happy has been held in solitary confinement at the Bronx zoo for 10 years. Happy was kidnapped from her birthplace in the early 1970s and shipped to the U.S. along with six other baby elephants. She was delivered to the Bronx Zoo in 1977, according to the New York Times.

For 25 years, Happy shared an enclosure with another elephant named Grumpy, during which time the two animals grew very close. Grumpy was euthanized in 2002, after another elephant attacked her. Happy then spent a few years with a younger female named Sammy, until Sammy died of liver disease in 2006. Since Sammy’s death, Happy has lived in isolation as the zookeepers do not think she can learn to get along with the other two remaining elephants. This is problematic for a number of self-evident reasons.

According to PETA, “elephants’ social and physical needs simply cannot be met in confinement. In captivity, they often show signs of boredom and psychosis, along with physical ailments such as obesity, foot problems and arthritis, which can cause intense suffering and premature death.”

Several zookeepers at the Bronx Zoo have said that they have witnessed Happy swaying and bobbing her head, a sign of neurosis. A study by the Honolulu Zoo found that around 85 percent of elephants held in American zoos exhibit this behavior, confirming long-held suspicions that zoos cannot provide adequate care for these intelligent and social animals.

Despite pressure from animal rights organizations, Bronx Zoo Director James Breheny has refused to send Happy to a reputable elephant sanctuary, claiming that she is better off in his care, which is ludicrous. It is high time that Happy is released from her solitary confinement and delivered to a place where she can experience the physical and psychological fulfillment she so covets and deserves. Please sign the below petition, urging the Bronx Zoo to finally liberate Happy.


Mr. Breheny,

Many people are disturbed by the plight of Happy, the 44-year-old elephant that is kept isolated at your zoo. As I’m sure you know, elephants are remarkably intelligent and social animals. In the wild they form tight-knit herds and unbreakable bonds with one another. Studies have shown that entire herds of elephants mourn the death of a companion.

These social and emotional needs cannot be provided by zoos, particularly when an elephant is forced to live all alone, as Happy has been forced to do for the last decade. When deprived of camaraderie, elephants oftentimes become depressed and neurotic, just like humans do.

Please do not let Happy die alone. Like all animals, she deserves the opportunity to experience real fulfillment and happiness, and you alone have the power to give her that opportunity. I urge you to release Happy to a reputable elephant sanctuary as soon as possible.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Fruggo

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  1. Phyllis Stinson says:

    Doesn’t appear that Happy is happy at all. This is not something that I feel you could possibly tell the citizens of the United States in any way somethING YOU SHOULDNT DO. There is a lack of humanity happening, an insensitivity. The bronx zoo IS supposedly to have a reputable reputation. This going around on the internet tarnishes that. This is something people don’t and won’t like there ditto alt not going to want to visit a place to see unhappy animals I wonder what would be the good reason that you would give the public to keeping Happy there? Shines negativity on the Bronx zoo. It can only form bad public relations. Which doesn’t have to happen. Getting the respect of the people is so much better than the disrespect. You’ll will be putting a lot of coin in the karma jar in the end. Always be well along with there being no question that you make the animals are also.
    Thank you for your time.

  2. Happy most certainly is NOT happy.Happy is miserable.This is disgraceful animal abuse.Happy most definitely must be relocated to a reputable elephant sanctuary.


  4. Let Happy join the 41 Asian elephants just released in Florida sanctuary from Barnum & Bailey circus. They took them off a train to a long table of fruits and vegetables so Happy needs to be with them.

    • The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee would be a much better choice. Even if Barnum and Bailey would take elephants that were never theirs, those elephants are not really going to a nice place. They will still be chained, and the plan is to use them for cancer research. The long table of fruits was a publicity thing.

    • No way do not send her there. That’s no sanctuary. The elephants are chained and forced to breed. They will now also be poked and prodded for cancer research. Guaranteed Ringling only exploits for profit. The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and PAWS in California are the only sanctuaries in N. America.

  5. This is extremely disturbing. What is wrong with that zoo?? Let that elephant go to a sanctury with others of her kind now!!! Ignorance prevails! Unbelievable cruel!!

  6. Judy Cowen says:

    Can’t you see how unhappy Happy is? Open your eyes! You would not want to live like that day in and day out without your family. Please, please, please let her go! This is not fun any more and never was for all these years for Happy. In Jesus’ name let Happy go. We are all waiting for you to do the right thing that you know is right in your heart! YOU CAN make a change and a difference. Just do it! Free Happy!!! I beg you!

  7. I have contacted In Defense of Animals.

    • lynn woods says:

      I hope you get satisfaction and this poor animal gets sent to an elephant sanctuary where he has company this zoo should be shut down

  8. In Defense of Animals has returned my call. They are aware of Happy and she has been a top priority of theirs for years. In fact, the Bronx Zoo has been named as one of the worst zoos for elephants for the last five years. Please support them and Happy’s and the other elephants’ causes.

  9. Stacy Pegram says:

    What else can I do to help Happy? I don’t want another one to die like this! I will not let it happen! Please tell me….what do I do? Who do I write?

  10. Jeannie Lucas says:

    Some great comments – This elephant should be sent to an approved sanctuary, which animal protection agencies can confirm is well-run and safe.

  11. What a disgrace! The Bronx Zoo is so arrogant that they think they are doing right by this elephant. Another bunch of ignorant greedy assholes!

  12. lynn woods says:

    why is this allowed in US put this poor elephant into a sanctuary where there other elephants these are a herd animal why is cruelty allowed greedy ignorant people

  13. Nooshin Perla says:

    What is left for me to say about nasty, sick, cruel and stupid people!!Let this majestic beautiful gorgeous Elephant be free, and live the rest of his/her life in sanctuary! PLEASE people PLEASE have a heart do the right things!

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