Animal Facts


* The infant-mortality rate for elephants in zoos is almost triple the species’ rate in the wild. Glamour Beasts, the dark side of elephant captivity,” Michael J Berens, The Seattle Times, Dec. 2012 * For every elephant born in a zoo, on average another two die. Glamour Beasts, the dark side of elephant captivity,” Michael J Berens, The Seattle Times, Dec. 2012 * Zoo visitors often mistake elephants’ head bobbing as “dancing.” In fact, it is stereotypical behavior caused by extreme stress; not behavior seen in the wild, according to wild elephant experts. Dr. Joyce Poole, letter of support for Billy - the lone male elephant at the Los Angeles Zoo. (Help Billy campaign.) * Many zoos have a contractual arrangement with the training company, Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT), which trains and sells elephants to circuses. Baby Lily who was born in 2012 to Rose-Tu and Hugo, and destined through a contractual agreement, to be sent to HTWT in 2012, but public outrage forced the Oregon Zoo to buy back her contract along with Lily’s father, Tusko. “Read the Oregon Zoo's Contract With "Have Trunk, Will Travel,” the Portland Mercury, December 2012

Zoos That Have Closed Their Elephant Exhibits (PETA)
Zoo Year Elephant Disposition
Woodland Park Zoo (Seattle) 2014 After Watoto, a 45-year old female elephant died, the WPZ, facing enormous public pressure, decided to close its elephant exhibit and send its last two elephants to another zoo. Activists are currently fighting to have the elephants sent to sanctuary.. Read story
Philadelphia Zoo (Pennsylvania) 2009 Dulary moved to The Elephant Sanctuary in 2007 and died there iin 2013. Read Story.
Alaska Zoo (Alaska) 2007 Transferred African elephant to the Performing Animal Welfare Society in San Andreas, California. Read story
Philadelphia Zoo (Pennsylvania) 2007 Sent Asian elephant Dulary to The Elephant Sanctuary in April 2007. Read story here, Dulary died, December 2013
Gladys Porter Zoo (Texas) 2006 Citing its inability to increase the size of its elephant exhibit, sent its only elephant, Ruth, a 28-year-old African, to the Milwaukie Zoo. Read about Ruth in her new home.
Lion Country Safari (Florida) Pending as of 2006 Intends to find new homes for African elephants Stumpy and Mama and then will close its elephant exhibit. Read story here.
Santa Barbara Zoo (California) Pending as of 2006 Announced that it will not take any more elephants after the current two die. IDA story here
Bronx Zoo (New York) Pending as of 2006 Announced that when two of its three elephants pass away, the remaining one will be sent to another zoo and the elephant exhibit will close. Read story
Lincoln Park Zoo (Chicago) 2005 After all three of its elephants died within a six-month period, announced that camels will be moved into the empty elephant exhibit. Deaths prompt protest
Detroit Zoo (Michigan) 2004 Citing problems with keeping elephants in captivity, announced its decision to close its elephant exhibit and send the two female Asian elephants—Winky, age 51, and Wanda, age 46—to a sanctuary. See story
San Francisco Zoo (California) 2004 Announced its decision to close its elephant exhibit and send Tinkerbelle, a 37-year-old Asian elephant, and Lulu, a 38- year-old African elephant, to a sanctuary. See story
Chehaw Wild Animal Park (Georgia) 2004 Retired Tange and Zula, both 30-year-old African elephants, to The Elephant Sanctuary because the elephants “deserve to live out their remaining years in the very best captive environment possible.” See story
Henry Vilas Zoo (Wisconsin) 2000 Retired Winkie, a 34-year-old Asian elephant, to The Elephant Sanctuary, and transferred Penny, a 21-year-old African elephant, to Riverbanks Zoo, North Carolina. See Winkie's story
Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo (Louisiana) 1999 Retired Shirley, a 51-year-old Asian elephant, to The Elephant Sanctuary because “[i]t was in Shirley’s best interests to retire her to a place that was more suitable.” Shirley's story
Mesker Park Zoo (Indiana) 1999 Retired Bunny, a 46-year-old Asian elephant, to The Elephant Sanctuary. Bunny died in 2009, see her story here
Frank Buck Zoo (Texas) 1998 Transferred Sissy, a 20-year-old Asian elephant, to the Houston Zoo, then to El Paso Zoo, and finally to The Elephant Sanctuary. Read about Sissy
Sacramento Zoo (California) 1991 Sent lone elephant Winky to the Detroit Zoo because the zoo’s elephant enclosure was considered “totally inadequate.” Winky died in 2008 Read her story
Zoo Year Elephant Disposition
Toronto Zoo (Canada) 2013 Transferred two African elephants to the Performing Welfare Animal Society in San Andreas, California. See story
All zoos in India 2009 As mandated by a decision of India’s Central Zoo Authority, announced the transfer of all 140 elephants living in 26 Indian zoos to wildlife parks and sanctuaries where they can graze more freely. See story
Dudley Zoo (United Kingdom) 2003 Transferred African elephants Flossie and Flora to Planet Sauvage in Nantes, France. (Dudley Zoo had admitted for some years that its enclosure was not appropriate, and fundraising to build a new enclosure was unsuccessful, so the zoo finally decided to find a new home for the elephants and has no plans to have more elephants in the future.) Read story here
Bristol Zoo (United Kingdom) 2002 Euthanized the lone 42-year-old female elephant, Wendy, after years of suffering from arthritis. (She had been kept alone in a tiny enclosure since 1986. Bristol Zoo elected not to replace her.) Wendy's story
London Zoo (United Kingdom) 2001 Permanently relocated three female Asian elephants (Mya, Layang-Layang, and Dilberta) to Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, closing the zoo’s 170-year-old elephant exhibit. (London Zoo’s enclosure had been heavily criticized for years, and a keeper was killed in October 2001.) See David Hancock’s comment about the closure in this article
Edinburgh Zoo (United Kingdom) 1988 The zoo no longer keeps elephants because of fears that captivity may cause harm to the animals. Phasing Out Elephants

Costa Rica to Close Zoos

In July 2013, the government of Costa Rica announced controversial plans to close the country's two public zoos, citing concerns about animal captivity and welfare. More than 400 animals currently residing in the zoos will be transferred to private animal-rescue centers around the country, where those that are able will be rehabilitated and released back into the wild.

Update August 29, 2015 - The Environment Ministry failed its court battle to close the zoos, but said it is appealing the ruling, but no date has been set for the appeal.

"We are getting rid of the cages and reinforcing the idea of interacting with biodiversity in botanical parks in a natural way....We don't want animals in captivity or enclosed in any way unless it is to rescue or save them." Environment Minister René Castro said at a press conference to announce the planned closures in July. National Geographic, August 2013


  • More than 35 nations around the world have in place either nationwide or local bans restricting the use of animals in circuses. Worldwide circus bans, ADI
  • In the U.S., Representative Jim Moran of Virginia recently reintroduced the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act to Congress, aiming to end the “inhumane” treatment of animals for entertainment across the nation.
  • The City of Oakland, CA just passed a ban on the use of bullhooks, to which Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced it will stop coming to Oakland in 2018. San Jose Mercury News, Dec. 2014


Exposing the Myths, the Truth About Trapping, Born Free USA Number of animals used to make an average-length fur coat:

Badger: 20 Beaver: 15 Coyote: 16 Red Fox: 18 Rabbit: 30 Lynx: 11 Mink (Ranch): 60
Bobcat: 15 Chinchilla: 100 Ermine: 125 Raccoon: 27 Sable: 40 Silver Fox: 11 Otter: 14

State leghold trapping bans

  • FL (1973) — Steel traps banned except by permit for animal damage control.
  • RI (1977) — Steel-jawed leghold traps banned except by permit for animal damage control.
  • NJ (1984) — Use, sale, manufacture, possession, import, and transport of steel-jaw leghold traps banned.
  • AZ (1994) — Leghold traps, instant kill body-gripping traps, and snares banned on public lands except for human health and safety, rodent control, wildlife research and relocation.
  • CO (1996) — Leghold traps, instant kill body-gripping traps, and snares banned except for animal damage control, human health and safety, rodent control, wildlife research and relocation.
  • MA (1996) — Steel-jaw leghold traps, padded leghold traps, Conibear traps, and snares banned except for human health and safety; Conibears only allowed by permit for damage control.
  • CA (1998) — Use of body-gripping traps for recreation or commerce, and commerce in raw fur from animals trapped with body-gripping traps, banned; steel-jaw leghold trap banned for all purposes except padded leghold trap for human health and safety.
  • WA (2000) — Use of body-gripping traps for recreation or commerce, and commerce in raw fur from mammals trapped with body-gripping traps, banned; use of body-gripping traps banned except Conibear trap in water, padded leghold trap, and foot snare allowed by permit for human health and safety, endangered species protection, wildlife research, or for unrelieved damage control.


  • More than 1 million pigs die each year from the conditions of transport. In winter, some pigs die frozen to the sides of the trucks. In summer, some die from heat exhaustion. Some fall and suffocate when additional animals are forced to pile in on top of them. Some die from heart attacks. Pigs Transport and Slaughter, PETA
  • A typical slaughterhouse kills up to 1,100 pigs every hour. So despite the Animal Welfare Law that calls for humane slaughter, the sheer number of animals killed makes it impossible for them to be given humane, painless deaths. Because of improper stunning, many pigs are alive when they reach the scalding tank, which is intended to soften their skin and remove their hair. Pigs Transport and Slaughter, PETA
  • On November 5, 2002, Florida voters approved the ban of intensive confinement of pigs in gestation crates. This was the first measure in the United States to ban the caging of pigs in gestation crates. Arizona voters overwhelmingly passed a similar measure in 2006 that outlawed the cruel confinement of breeding pigs as well as veal calves. Both states had overwhelming support from concerned citizens who wanted to put an end to animal cruelty in agricultural settings. On June 28, 2007, Oregon became the first state ever to pass legislation banning the use of cruel confinement of pigs in gestation crates. The ballot initiatives and state legislation are ample evidence that the movement to ban gestation crates is gaining momentum and increasing in popularity. Animal Law Resource Center
  • Chickens and other fowl are not protected under the Animal Welfare Law, so there are no safeguards against inhumane slaughter. The State of California will end the sale of eggs from out-of-state battery cage facilities beginning January 1, 2015. The Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, also known as Prop 2, was brought into law through a successful November 2008 state-wide ballot measure. It phases out the use of battery cages by Californian egg producers by January 1, 2015, while the new assembly bill extends that ban to out-of-state producers selling to consumers in California. Text of Act

Dairy Cows

A normal lifespan for cows is 20 years. In dairies, they are so intensively milked, their lifespans are only 4-5 years. Those considered no longer useful are slaughtered, and many downer cows (those that are no longer able to stand) most often end up in hamburger for school lunch programs Read court case here

There is a high prevalence of a mammary gland infection called mastitis in dairy cows, which results in a large amount of pus in milk. A little over a quart of California milk contained 298 million pus cells in 2003; 11 million more pus cells than it contained the year before. Pasteurization results in dead pus cells. One Green Planet

Florida's milk has the highest count: 548 million pus cells per liter, or nearly 130 million per 8- oz glass. Even that is well below the USDA's allowable U.S. standard of 750 million pus cells per liter, above which milk must be consumed in the state in which it is produced. One Green Planet

Primates Used in Research

Matt Rossell, who worked as a lab tech at OHSU (Oregon Health Sciences University), recorded undercover video that revealed stressed-out behavior by the primates—including self-mutilation that resulted in deep wounds. In 2000, Rossell and Dr. Isis Johnson-Brown, a former United States Department of Agriculture Inspector, reported that the USDA was in collusion with primate research centers to hide animal abuse from the public. That May, 26 OHSU animal technicians signed a complaint to the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) against the laboratory. However, despite these claims and video evidence, OHSU was cleared of all charges of abuse by the USDA in 2001. Matt Rossell, Campaigns Director, ADI, PETA investigation in 2007 reveals ongoing abuses


The film “Blackfish” spotlighted the on-going ordeal of captive orcas, especially the orca Tillicum at SeaWorld. Lolita’s story is not as well known. On August 8, 1970, Lolita was caught in Puget Sound, WA. One of seven young whales sold to marine parks around the world from a roundup of over 80 orcas, she was purchased by Miami Seaquarium veterinarian Dr. Jesse White. On arriving there, Lolita joined another male orca named Hugo, who was captured some time before Lolita.

She and Hugo lived together as close companions for 10 years in what is known as the Whale Bowl, a tank the size of a hotel swimming pool. Hugo died March 4, 1980, after repeatedly smashing his head into the walls of the tank in what has been described as an act of suicide. He died from a brain aneurism. Now Lolita is the remaining survivor of the 58 whales kidnapped over the years from Puget Sound. Despite lawsuits by ALDF, Animal Legal Defense Fund, PETA, and three individuals, she has not been granted her freedom. However, in Februrary 2015, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that Lolita and other orcas are now protected under the Endangered Species Act. Activists are hoping this means she will soon be released back to the wild.