Demand Release of Captive Elephants


Target: President & CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Cristián Samper

Goal: Free elephants imprisoned at the Bronx Zoo and send them to a wildlife sanctuary

For more than 35 years, three elephants have been on display at the Bronx Zoo in New York City. These creative, intelligent and social animals have been forced to endure frigid East Coast winters spent in small, cramped cages without room to roam freely. Depriving these elephants of a life spent exploring their natural warm weather environment with their herd is enslavement and therefore a violation of their basic rights as living beings.

Happy, Maxine, and Patty have spent nearly four decades imprisoned at the Bronx Zoo, and while the zoo’s staff has certainly done their part to care for the animals as best as they can, it has become clear that the elephants’ needs are not being fully met. To remain warm during the harsh New York City winters, the elephants must be housed in cramped concrete cages for extended periods of time. Even worse, ever since Happy’s companion passed away eight years ago, she has been forced to live alone. This improper care can often result in increased health problems and psychological deterioration, as elephants require a complex social structure for optimal health and wellness.

Although the Bronx Zoo has pledged to “phase out” its elephant exhibit once the next elephant dies, all three of these majestic creatures should be allowed to spend their twilight years enjoying the beauty and freedom of life in a sanctuary. Forcing elephants to endure harsh winters to which they are unaccustomed and sentencing one to solitary confinement despite their social nature is inhumane and cruel.

By signing this petition, you will be urging conservation authorities to free Happy, Maxine, and Patty to a wildlife sanctuary where they can enjoy their remaining years roaming freely.


Dear Dr. Samper,

I am writing to urge you to free the elephants on display at the Bronx Zoo in New York City and transport them to a wildlife sanctuary where they may roam in a habitat that is more suited to their physical and psychological needs. As you know, elephants are incredibly complex and social creatures, and forcing them to a life of solitary confinement in a cramped concrete cage is cruel and inhumane.

While I commend the Bronx Zoo for pledging to phase out its elephant exhibit after the death of one of its three remaining elephants, I believe each remaining elephant should be allowed the right to roam freely in a wildlife sanctuary. The elephants at the Bronx Zoo have already spent 35 years living in captivity—they should not have to wait any longer for their freedom.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Mister-E via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Stephanie Geyser says:

    Do yourself a favor and read “The Elephant Whisperer” by Lawrence Anthony – and then you’ll see why elephants belong in the wild – not confined to zoos.

  2. aristide armaganc says:

    How long does a person stand before the caged animal? A minute, two minutes? About as long as one stands before art in a museum. I get more information reading about animals or watching a documentary. Even the best zoo or aquarium cannot ever duplicate the heavens, the earth or the oceans – the needful vastness of movement these animals are born for. Go on, you spend your life in a closet. Whoopee do! Have people stare and point and, generally, act like humans. Zoos and aquariums are an anachronism. Time to let go or make sanctuaries to help wounded or ill animals.

  3. Lisbeth Alvarado Sanchez says:

    No animal deserves to live in captivity. They were born to be free. Elephants are highly social and intelligent creatures it breaks my heart to see them in captivity only because of the greed of a bunch of horrible people.

  4. I hate to see or hear of any wild life that is caged it is not needed and these animals should be with their own kind, do these people never stop and think what would I do all day if some one took me away and caged me and never let me see another human being, feed me watered me left me, it really is not brain surgery, just a little thought as to what these poor things are going through and have been for years,

  5. Mr. & Mrs. Terry Cadwallader says:


  6. We have the same problem at New Bedford zoo, which was voted one of the top ten worst zoos in the US. The 2 elephants, Ruth and Emily, are not compatible and Ruth is aggressive towards Emily. They have been offered a spot in a Tennessee sanctuary. But the mayor and the zoo director would rather contain them in, what looks like, a small war zone with little enrichment. The elephants are elderly and could spend their remaining years in comfort if let go.

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