Prevent Elephant from Living in Solitary Confinement

Target: Jim Maddy, President and CEO of The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)

Goal: Don’t allow the San Antonio Zoo to house an elephant alone–in violation of official AZA policy.

After the death of her companion Queenie, Lucky, an elephant living at the San Antonio Zoo, was left alone–and despite official rules to the contrary, the zoo is trying to make the situation a permanent one. Stand up for a lonely elephant who cannot speak up for herself: sign the petition and ask the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the governing body to which accredited zoos answer, to put an end to Lucky’s solitary confinement.

Elephants are highly social animals, living in groups and often developing close relationships with one another. As a result, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)  forbids zoos from housing elephants alone; in fact, it mandates that they should be kept in groups of at least three. It will, however, sometimes grant variances, meaning it will allow exceptions to the rule. The San Antonio Zoo has applied for a variance that would allow it to continue to house Lucky by herself.

Lucky is perhaps misnamed then, because she has been the subject of variances before: when her companion Alport died in 2008, the AZA “granted the zoo a temporary one-elephant variance” and then renewed the variance in 2009 on the condition that the zoo use the time to find a companion for Lucky. As In Defense of Animals points out, “[t]his is a clear indication that the AZA did not believe it was appropriate for Lucky to remain alone. Surely it is no more appropriate a mere three years later.”

The good news is that the AZA has pledged to grant no more variances after 2016. But for 53-year-old lucky, 2016 may be too late. Help an elephant in need; sign the petition and ask the AZA to stand by its earlier decision not to let Lucky live alone.


Dear Mr. Maddy,

53-year-old Lucky is misnamed–she finds herself alone again after the death of her companion Queenie. While this is sad enough in and of itself, the San Antonio Zoo, rather than abiding by Association of Zoos and Aquariums guidelines and finding Lucky another companion, is seeking to make her solitary situation more permanent, applying for a variance from the AZA. I strongly urge you to reject this request and to insist that the zoo either find Lucky a new companion or transfer her to a facility that will allow her the freedom to interact with other elephants as she pleases.

The San Antonio Zoo has already proven itself all too willing to compromise Lucky’s well-being, as it has applied for variances to house her alone at least twice in the past after the death of her companion elephant. However, the AZA’s decision in 2009 to grant a variance only on the condition that the zoo use the time to find another elephant demonstrates that, in the past, the AZA clearly opposed the idea of leaving Lucky by herself. Lucky’s solitary confinement is no more appropriate or acceptable now than it was  four years ago. I therefore urge the AZA to stand by its earlier decision and insist that Lucky be given at least one companion elephant.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Anna Cervova via Public Domain Images

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  1. J Davidson says:

    Zoos are obsolete, period. Return these animals to the wild where they can live out their lives in peace.

  2. Elephants are social creatures. Loneliness is torture for them. Please, let Lucky be free, take her to a sanctuary. Please, please, please, mercy for her.

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