Animal rights groups sue Edmonton over ill elephant
Two animal-rights groups filed a court application Monday claiming the City of Edmonton is breaching Alberta's Animal Protection Act by keeping Lucy the elephant ill, alone and in distress.
The long-threatened legal case by Zoocheck Canada and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is supported by affidavits from several experts, including former San Diego Zoo veterinarian Dr. Philip Ensley.
Dr. Ensley, now retired, says the 34-year-old Asian elephant is overweight and in distress, suffering from ailments including arthritis, respiratory and foot problems.
He's also concerned that she isn't living with other elephants, and that Edmonton's cold weather makes it hard for her to exercise properly at her home in the city's Valley Zoo.
"It is my opinion that the conditions and standard of care at the Valley Zoo are causing Lucy unnecessary distress and that these conditions are not in conformity with [zoo association] standards," Dr. Ensley said in his affidavit.
He based his conclusions on his experience in the field and a review of information about Lucy's condition, although he didn't personally examine her.
The decision to keep Lucy in Edmonton has been the subject of controversy, with animal rights groups enlisting celebrities such as Bob Barker and William Shatner to push for her transfer to an elephant sanctuary.
Last August, Shatner wrote a short letter to Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel pleading with him to let Lucy to spend her golden years in "better circumstances."
"Let me add my voice to the crescendo of voices asking for some relief in the fate of your beloved elephant, Lucy," Dr. Shatner wrote.
"In a way, it's none of our business -- Edmonton can capably take care of its own. Yet, in a larger sense, these extraordinary animals are everybody's responsibility.
"So I humbly ask you to allow Lucy to retire to better circumstances than at the Edmonton Zoo . . . she's old, feeble, and many of us know how that feels. I hope you don't mind my intruding but the cause is just."
Dr. Barker, longtime host of The Price is Right, visited
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